There was no last inning celebration this time at Oakland Coliseum, as the Cleveland Indians used a three-run home run from Roberto Perez in the sixth inning to break up a tied ball game and held on for a 5-3 win over the Oakland Athletics on Sunday afternoon.
After a pair of walk-off wins in their final at bats on Friday and Saturday in the first two games of the series, the A’s ran out of time and ran out of innings on Sunday, as the Indians finally survived the late inning heroics of the host club. Jefry Rodriguez was good again on the mound, filling in one of the holes in the starting rotation, and the bullpen worked three scoreless frames to give their young right-hander his first win of the season.
The score was tied at two in the sixth when Perez came up big for the Tribe. Facing starting pitcher Daniel Mengden, who tried to rock his best Rollie Fingers facial hair in his first start for the A’s this season, the Indians started the inning with a fly out to right by Carlos Santana, but both Carlos Gonzalez and Jordan Luplow reached on singles to knock Mengden out of the game after five and one-third innings. Left-hander Ryan Buchter took over and got Jake Bauers to line out to second for the second out, but Perez drove the next pitch deep to left-center for a three-run blast, giving the Indians a 5-2 lead.
Rodriguez returned for the sixth and gave up a solo home run to Matt Olson to make it a 5-3 game, but that was as close as it would get. Adam Cimber pitched a perfect seventh and Nick Wittgren handled the eighth with only a Khris Davis two-out single against him. Brad Hand took care of things easily in the ninth, needing just eight pitches to retire Chad Pinder (grounder to third), Robbie Grossman (fly to center), and Ramon Laureano (three-pitch strikeout looking) for his eleventh save of the season.
The Indians took a 2-0 lead against Mengden with a busy first frame. Francisco Lindor started the game with a single to right and he moved to second on a walk by Mike Freeman. Jose Ramirez struck out swinging for the first out, but Santana made up for it by just missing a home run on a drive to right. Lindor scored to give the Indians a one-run lead. Gonzalez walked to load the bases for Luplow, who lifted a fly ball to left deep enough to score Freeman on the sacrifice fly, making it a 2-0 game.
Cleveland got two on in the second, but failed to score. Leonys Martin singled to right with one out and stole second. Freeman drew his second walk of the day, but with Ramirez at the plate, Martin was caught stealing third to end the inning.
Rodriguez retired the side in order in the first and worked around a one-out walk in the second. The third was less successful, however, as Oakland tied it up with a big inning. Laureano walked and moved to second on a groundout by Josh Phegley. Marcus Semien struck out for the second out, but Jurickson Profar drove home the team’s first run with a single to center. Stephen Piscotty tied the game on the next pitch with a single of his own to center to score Profar, making it a 2-2 tie.
Mengden settled in after the rough first two innings, retiring the side in order in the third and fourth. He walked Martin to start the fifth, but let him get no further. Rodriguez set down the side in order in the bottom of the fourth and got a big double play grounder in the fifth after a Semien single and Profar walk with one out.
Rodriguez went six in his first win of the campaign. He allowed three runs on six hits, walking three and striking out three while throwing a season-high 101 pitches. Cimber and Wittgren each earned their third holds of the season. Every Indians pitcher recorded at least one strikeout on the day.
Mengden was called up from Triple-A prior to the game to make the spot start and lasted five and one-third innings. He was charged with four runs on five hits with four walks and four strikeouts on 100 pitches thrown. Buchter threw five pitches, all for strikes, but he allowed the go-ahead blast with one down in the sixth.
An 0-for-4 day at the plate for Ramirez dropped his batting average back below the Mendoza mark at .199. Lindor was the only Indians hitter with a multi-hit game. Freeman drew three walks on the afternoon and now has a .414 on-base percentage in limited action this season.
Davis played for the first time in the series and went 2-for-4 for Oakland with a pair of singles, the only multi-hit game for the A’s on the day.
Both teams hit the road following the game. The Indians will open a two-game series in Chicago against the White Sox on Monday night. The A’s will start a two-game set against the Seattle Mariners from T-Mobile Park in the late start on Monday as well.
Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images