CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan)– The Indians haven’t had many good times over the last nine weeks, but finally on Thursday night came back with a stunning ninth inning in one of the more memorable efforts of 2012.
Down 4-2 entering the 9th against Rangers closer Joe Nathan, the Indians hit two homers, the second a two-run shot by Jason Kipnis as the Tribe rallied for a 5-4 win to salvage the last game of the three-game set.
Matt LaPorta hit his first homer of the year, a two-run shot to tie the game in the 6th, and down 4-2 in the ninth, Ezequiel Carrera hit his second homer of the year to get the Tribe within one at 4-3.
Russ Canzler then singled to left to put the tying run on, and Jason Donald came in to pinch-run for him. Not wasting anytime, Kipnis slammed a Nathan offering for a two-run shot to deep right, giving the Indians the rather shocking one-run lead.
The game was then turned over to closer Chris Perez, who almost gave the run back when Elvis Andrus tripled to deep right with two outs. With the game on the line, Perez struck out Rangers number three hitter David Murphy looking to seal the win.
The Indians played the finale of the road trip without two of its better players – center fielder Michael Brantley was scratched with a sore left pectoral muscle and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera missed his fourth straight game because of a sore right wrist.
Nathan (2-4) had converted a club-record 31 straight save chances before the Indians erased a 4-2 deficit in the ninth. The right-hander’s only other blown save this season came April 11 against Seattle.
The Rangers scored twice to take a 4-2 lead in the eighth with the help of two errors.
Elvis Andrus reached on shortstop Brent Lillibridge’s second throwing error of the game and scored when third baseman Jack Hannahan couldn’t handle Nelson Cruz’s grounder. Michael Young added an RBI single that gave the Rangers a two-run lead.
Texas slugger Josh Hamilton, who leads the majors with 41 home runs and 121 RBIs, missed the game with soreness in his left knee. Rookie Leonys Martin started in Hamilton’s place.
Hamilton left Wednesday night in the eighth inning and received an injection after the game. Texas manager Ron Washington said he doesn’t think it’s a serious injury and Hamilton is expected to be back in the lineup Friday.
Adrian Beltre got two hits as the designated hitter, a day after leaving early with a left shoulder injury. Beltre was not in the original lineup before he convinced Washington that he was healthy enough to play.
Zach McAllister allowed two runs and eight hits in six innings. The right-hander gave up seven runs over five innings in his previous start against the Rangers on Sept. 2.
Texas starter Derek Holland allowed seven hits and two runs. The Ohio native struck out seven and hasn’t lost since July 31.
Beltre singled with one out in the fourth, Cruz doubled and Young followed with an RBI single. Cruz scored on Lillibridge’s throwing error.
Vinny Rottino singled leading off the sixth and he came home on LaPorta’s shot that made it 2-all. It was LaPorta’s first home run of the season.
Scott Maine (1-0) got the final two outs in the eighth in his third appearance with the Indians this season.
The 10-game road swing for the Indians ends at 4-6 after they started the road trip 2-0 with two early wins in Detroit. The Indians are now 60-84 with a six-game homestand coming starting Friday with the Tigers and Justin Verlander.