Bourn Walkoff Races Indians to Sweep; Indians 6, Rockies 4

It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Well, unless you hit the walkoff home run, then it’s a sprint too.

After slow starts to their season, Michael Bourn and Josh Tomlin have come alive to try and keep the Indians in the American League Central Division race the last few weeks. Sunday, Bourn hit a walkoff home run in the bottom of the ninth to give the Indians a 6-4 victory and three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies.

Bourn started the season injured, then in a slump, but has hit in his last 14 of 15 games and now is batting .348 with runners in scoring position. His second home run of the year and walkoff sprint around the bases was set up by another strong start from Tomlin. Tomlin received his first no-decision of the year, but pitched the Tribe into the sixth inning after a slow start in the second and third innings.

Tomlin had to battle just for the chance to be on the roster in spring training and spent the first month of the season in Triple-A Columbus. Both starters, Tomlin and Rockies Jhoulys Chacin, fought off early struggles to settle down for solid starts.

Cleveland jumped on Chacin in the bottom of the first inning with the help of some poor Colorado defense and base on balls. Michael Bourn and Asdrubal Cabrera started the game with back-to-back walks before Michael Brantley followed with a single to center field to plate Bourn and give the Indians a 1-0 lead.

After Jason Kipnis struck out, Lonnie Chisenhall topped a ball out in front of the plate and Rockies catcher Jordan Pacheco pounced and threw to second base for a force out. Pacheco’s throw was wide of the bag and pulled shortstop Troy Tulowitzki off the base and everyone was safe. Chacin then walked Jason Giambi to force in a run and David Murphy hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score Brantley and give the Indians a 3-0 lead.

The lead did not last long, however. Colorado battled back with a pair in the second inning and another in the third off Tomlin. Justin Morneau reached on Mike Aviles’ error at third base and Corey Dickerson made them pay with his second home run of the series. Dickerson’s seventh homer of the season cut the Tribe’s lead to 3-2.

In the third inning, Michael Cuddyer and Tulowitzki each singled to set up the Rockies’ third tally, but they were able to take advantage of a poor decision by Bourn. When Tulowitzki singled to center field, Cuddyer hustled to third base and Bourn threw trying to get him out. Tulowitzki advanced to second base on the throw and eliminated the double play. When Morneau grounded to second base, instead of a double play possibility, Cuddyer scampered home on the ground out to tie the game, 3-3.

But the Tribe charged back in the early see-saw battle. In the bottom of the third inning Brantley earned his second hit of the game, a double to center field. Kipnis hit a fly ball to center field to advance him to third base and Chisenhall hit a sacrifice fly to right field to give the Indians a 4-3 lead after three innings. Brantley had two hits on the afternoon, after having his 15-game hitting streak snapped on Saturday.

Tomlin settled down and retired the last ten hitters he faced. After Tulowitzki’s single in the third inning, he did not allow another hitter to reach base. He left the game in style—striking out Tulowitzki and Morneau—before leaving for left-handed reliever Josh Outman. After the early struggles, Tomlin went on to pitch five and two-third innings, allowing three runs—only two earned—on four hits and a walk, while striking out eight. Outman finished the sixth, striking out Dickerson, the Indians’ weekend nemesis, to end the inning.

Chacin was able to settle in to the game and survive much longer than it originally appeared. After the first inning, Chacin pitched entirely from the stretch, but in five innings, allowed four runs on three hits, five walks and four strikeouts. Tommy Kahnle took over for Chacin and pitched a scoreless sixth inning.

Bryan Shaw took over for the Indians in the seventh inning, but he would not be able to hold the lead. Brandon Barnes welcomed Shaw to the game with a double down the right field line. Pacheco walked and D.J. LeMahieu bunted the two runners into scoring position for Charlie Blackmon. Blackmon flew to center field and Bourn’s throw was just late, allowing Barnes to slide headfirst under George Kottaras’ tag. Barnes double and slide home allowed the Rockies to tie the game at four apiece.

Colorado then began inundating the Indians with left-handed relievers. The Tribe had seven left-handed hitters in today’s starting lineup. Rex Brothers redeemed himself from Saturday’s loss and pitched a scoreless seventh inning and Boone Logan did the same in the eighth. Shaw stayed on to record the first out of the eighth inning before giving way to Marc Rzepczynski, who recorded the final two outs of the inning.

Scott Atchison (2-0) pitched the top of the ninth inning, striking out the side. Atchison did allow a double to LeMahieu with two outs, but buckled down to strike out Blackmon and keep the game deadlocked.

That set the table for Bourn’s two-run homer. Aviles started the bottom of the ninth with a single off Adam Ottavino (0-2) before George Kottaras bunted him to second base. The sacrifice would not be necessary when Bourn hit his second homer of the season, a walkoff winner. The win gives the Indians a sweep of the Rockies on the weekend and their second straight home, sweep. Cleveland swept the Detroit Tigers before their last road trip.

Cleveland will try to keep their winning ways at home going against the red-hot, Boston Red Sox. Boston has won seven straight games, including sweeps of the Tampa Bay Rays and Atlanta Braves. Boston will send right-hander, John Lackey (6-3, 3.27) to the mound Monday evening, while Cleveland will counter with former Red Sox, Justin Masterson (2-4, 5.21) at Progressive Field.

Photo: Tony Dejak/AP Photo

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