The Cleveland Indians broke out the bats against the Houston Astros, and needed every run they could muster on the way to a 7-6 victory in front of the home fans at Progressive Field Wednesday night.
After getting just five hits against Astros (14-7) ace Dallas Keuchel Tuesday, the Indians (11-9) pounded out 10 hits, which proved to be enough to overcome a pair of defensive errors and even the three-game series at one win apiece heading into Thursday’s rubber match.
Hitters one through seven in the Indians’ batting order had at least one hit and accounted for three of the team’s five walks. First baseman Carlos Santana, left fielder Michael Brantley and second baseman Jason Kipnis had two hits each in the victory.
The Indians got rolling early against Astros starter Lance McCullers, Jr., as they plated three runs in the bottom of the first inning and never looked back.
Santana started the game with a single to center field, and shortstop Francisco Lindor followed up with a four-pitch walk.
Then, Brantley doubled to deep center field. With the double, Brantley brought around Santana and moved Lindor over to third base. Designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion drove in Lindor when he lifted an RBI sacrifice fly to right field.
The Indians added a third run when third baseman Jose Ramirez doubled to left-center field off of the glove of Houston’s Josh Reddick and drove in Brantley.
After threatening in the top of the third inning, the Astros got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth.
Shortstop Carlos Correa led off with a double to deep right-center field, and after catcher Brian McCann lined out to center, designated hitter Evan Gattis smashed a two-run home run over the wall in center field.
The Indians got those two runs back in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Santana began the frame with a five-pitch walk and moved over to third base with no out when Lindor belted a double to left field. Both Santana and Lindor came around to score when Brantley hit a two-run single to left-center field.
Down 5-2 after Cleveland’s response, the Astros again drew to within a run of the Indians with a two-run home run in the top of the sixth inning.
After Correa walked on just five pitches, McCann belted the first pitch he saw from Indians starter Trevor Bauer over the wall in right-center field.
The Indians retook a three-run lead, 7-4, when Santana doubled home both Kipnis and right fielder Abraham Almonte in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Kipnis began the inning with a single to center field and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch from former Indians reliever Tony Sipp. After center fielder Lonnie Chisenhall dropped a sacrifice bunt down the third-base line, Almonte drew a four-pitch walk.
Although Indians reliever Andrew Miller worked out of a bases-loaded jam without allowing a run in the top of the seventh inning, the Astros got to the bullpen, namely right-hander Bryan Shaw, in their next trip to the plate.
Third baseman Alex Bregman reached safely on an error charged to Shaw, and after first baseman Yuli Gurriel flied out to right field for the second out of the inning, right fielder Norichika Aoki hit an infield single to third base.
Second baseman Marwin Gonzalez followed with a double to left-center field and drove in Bregman and Aoki, which cut the Indians’ lead to a run, 7-6.
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