Under any other circumstances, Torii Hunter would have had a two-run double. This time, the RBI single was just fine with him.
Hunter's game-ending hit in the 11th inning skipped over the wall in left field and gave the Los Angeles Angels a 2-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Friday night.
The Angels loaded the bases with no outs on singles by Erick Aybar, Bobby Abreu and Maicer Izturis, and Justin Germano (0-1) failed to get his 0-1 pitch down to Hunter. The four-time All-Star whacked it into the corner, where it bounced into the seats.
Normally, Hunter would have been awarded a ground-rule double. But this one snapped a tie and ended the game, forcing him to settle for a run-scoring single. Not that it mattered to him as he was mobbed by his jubilant teammates after rounding first base.
"In that situation, I was just trying to get something up and put it in the outfield," Hunter said. "You don't necessarily have to get a hit, just get it out there and get a sac fly or whatever. The first pitch was a curveball, and it was so slow, I almost blew my back out when I swung. I didn't know what was coming next, and he just left the curveball up a second time."
Indians manager Manny Acta didn't have many options in a bullpen that was already spent after a 12-inning win at Oakland the day before. So it was left to Germano to keep it going as long as he could.
"Our bullpen wasn't as deep today because of yesterday's extra-inning ballgame," Acta said. "Germano hasn't pitched in a week, so I can't expect him to come in and blow everybody away. His job is to be the long man, and Chris Perez wasn't available tonight, so we had to go with him. But it's tough to ask him to come in and go through the heart of their order and get them out."
Tyler Chatwood pitched eight sparkling innings for the AL West-leading Angels, holding the surprising Central leaders to one run and two hits — both by Carlos Santana. The rookie right-hander was coming off a shaky performance at Tampa Bay, when he gave up five runs in the first inning and Los Angeles rallied for a 6-5 win.
"That's just how baseball goes sometimes," Chatwood said. "I'm just out there trying to keep us in the game. Butch (pitching coach Mike Butcher) and I worked hard after that last start to kind of smooth some things out with my mechanics, and I felt good tonight. The offense has been doing a great job all year and the defense has, too."
Fernando Rodney (1-1) worked the 11th inning to get the victory.
Cleveland's Justin Masterson, trying to improve to 6-0, allowed a run and nine hits over seven innings in his seventh start of the season. He struck out five and walked none while lowering his ERA to 2.11.
"Masterson was very good," Acta said. "He threw 120 pitches his last outing and couldn't push him any further, but he gave us seven innings tonight. It might sound funny, but we swung the bat good — even though it doesn't show on the scoreboard. We squared up some balls, but they made some good plays."
The best defensive gem came from 5-foot-7 Angels rookie Alexi Amarista, who raced back toward the warning track and made a leaping grab of Shin-Soo Choo's bid for extra bases in the eighth inning. Amarista started in the outfield for the first time in the majors, with Vernon Wells shifting from left field to center.
"Man, that guy's like Spud Webb. He jumped up pretty high. I think he can dunk," Hunter said with a grin. "He's a gamer, though. That's why they brought him up. We love him. He's not scared, and he's had good at-bats. That's why he's out there. He's just a little fella, but he can play anywhere. We were all excited for him. Someone that short, you've just got to love him."
Cleveland grabbed the lead in the fourth. Asdrubal Cabrera was hit by a 2-2 pitch leading off the inning and advanced to third on a grounder up the middle by Santana that squirted under the glove of diving second baseman Izturis. Travis Hafner then hit a run-scoring bouncer to first baseman Howie Kendrick.
The Angels tied it in the sixth when Abreu led off with a single and scored on Izturis' double to right-center. Izturis tried to advance on a fly ball to right field by Hunter, but was thrown out by Choo.
Masterson pitched with runners on base in each of the first four innings — giving up seven hits during that stretch — but came away unscathed each time.
Izturis hit a first-inning fly ball to left fielder Michael Brantley that was too shallow to get Aybar in from third base, and Hunter stranded the runner with a comebacker to Masterson.
The Angels threatened again in the third on one-out singles by Aybar and Abreu, but Izturis lined into a double play started by second baseman Orlando Cabrera. In the fourth, Wells grounded into an inning-ending double play after an infield single to second by Alberto Callaspo and a bunt hit by Kendrick.
The Angels' next victory will be Mike Scioscia's 1,000th as a big league manager — all with the Halos. Bill Rigney, the team's first manager from 1961 through 1969, is second on the franchise list with 625.
NOTES: The Angels were just 1 for 15 with the bases loaded coming into the game. ... Amarista's previous three starts in the big leagues were at 2B. He hadn't played outfield at any level since 2008. "I don't know if he'll be jumping over walls and taking home runs away, but he'll be OK," Scioscia said before the game. ... The Angels held their annual pregame cow-milking contest, with CF Peter Bourjos beating Indians RHP Joshua Tomlin. To get the other two participants in the right frame of mind, the opening theme from the classic 1960s TV series "Rawhide" that starred Clint Eastwood was played over the public address system. ... A ceremonial first pitch was thrown by Tim Salmon, the Angels' career home run leader and the only player in franchise history to win the AL Rookie of the Year award. ... RHP Jess Todd, whom the Indians designated for assignment on April 30, was claimed off waivers by the Yankees.