CLEVELAND (AP) — Mark Reynolds’ fielder’s choice with the bases loaded in the ninth inning lifting the Cleveland Indians to a 5-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.
The Indians, who began the day tied with Detroit atop the AL Central, have won 16 of their last 20.
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Seattle tied the score at 4-all with two-out, solo homers by Raul Ibanez and Justin Smoak off Indians closer Chris Perez in the top of the ninth.
Jason Kipnis, who won Friday’s game with a three-run homer in the 10th, led off the bottom of the ninth with a single off Oliver Perez (1-1) and took third on Asdrubal Cabrera’s double. Nick Swisher was intentionally walked to load the bases..
Reynolds, who drove in three runs, hit a sharp ground ball off reliever Yoervis Medina that was gloved by shortstop Brendan Ryan, but his throw home pulled catcher Jesus Montero off the plate.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge came on the field to discuss the call with home plate umpire Mike Winters, but quickly went back to the dugout.
The Indians were one out from victory when Ibanez and Smoak struck. Chris Perez retired the first two hitters before Ibanez homered to right, cutting the lead to 4-3. Smoak homered to center on a 1-1 pitch.
Perez (2-0) blew his second save in eight chances this season.
Behind Zach McAllister’s strong outing and Reynolds, who hit his 12th home run of the season in the fifth, the Indians appeared to be in good shape entering the ninth.
McAllister took a shutout into the eighth that was broken up by Ryan’s two-run homer. The right-hander allowed two runs and six hits in 7 1-3 innings.
Reynolds, whose RBI single in the first put Cleveland ahead, hit a 3-2 pitch from Joe Saunders over the 19-foot high wall in left field in the fifth. Reynolds, signed as a free agent in December, is tied for the AL lead in home runs.
Run-scoring singles by Michael Bourn and Kipnis increased the lead in the sixth.
Saunders allowed four runs and 11 hits in 5 1-3 innings as the left-hander’s road woes continued. He’s 0-4 with an 11.25 ERA in five starts away from Safeco Field this season. Saunders is 3-0 with an 0.94 ERA in four home starts.
Cleveland’s first-inning rally began on Cabrera’s two-out single. Following a walk to Swisher, Reynolds punched a ground ball through the right side that scored Cabrera.
Montero started Seattle’s third with a single, but his baserunning gaffe proved costly. He moved to second on Ryan’s single, but strayed too far from second when Endy Chavez took a strike while squaring around for a bunt attempt. Montero was tagged out in a rundown and McAllister retired the next two hitters.
Cabrera returned the baserunning mistake after he led off the fifth with a single. Ibanez caught Swisher’s high fly ball in front of the wall in left. Cabrera, thinking the ball was going to be for extra bases, was doubled off first.
The Indians chased Saunders in the sixth. Mike Aviles started the inning with a double and remained at second when Yan Gomes singled through the left side. After a sacrifice and with the infield playing in, Ryan fielded Bourn’s ground ball behind the mound but his throw home was too late to get Aviles. Kipnis blooped a single to left that scored Gomes.
Smoak led off the eighth with a double and scored when Ryan hit his first home run of the season. Rich Hill recorded the final two outs of the eighth.
NOTES: Mariners RHP Felix Hernandez (5-2) takes on Indians RHP Justin Masterson (6-2) in a matchup of aces Sunday. Hernandez was forced to leave his start against the New York Yankees on Tuesday with back stiffness. … Indians OF Michael Brantley, hitless in his last seven at-bats, wasn’t in the lineup Saturday. Aviles started in left field. Brantley came in as a defensive replacement in the eighth. … Mariners OF Michael Morse returned after missing Friday’s game with irritation in his eye and was hitless in four at-bats. … Michael Saunders, who is 2 for 19 with seven strikeouts in his last four games, didn’t start. … Mariners RHP Aaron Harang (lower back stiffness) played catch before the game and will throw a bullpen session Sunday. Harang was a late scratch Thursday against the Yankees, but is scheduled to make his next start Tuesday at the Angels. … Cleveland Browns coach Rob Chudzinski threw out the the first pitch and also exchanged uniforms with Indians manager Terry Francona.