CLEVELAND – Tampa Bay still has baseball's best road record. It would get even better if the Rays could just figure out how to win at Progressive Field.
Closer Kyle Farnsworth issued his first walk of the season, to Michael Brantley with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth inning as the Cleveland Indians rallied for their 14th consecutive home win, beating the Rays 5-4 Tuesday night.
"We have not had great success here," Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine said. "I wish I could tell you why."
The victory continued the Indians' recent run of late-inning magic at Progressive Field. They have won their past four at home in their final at-bat.
"Too many walks and too many mistakes," Rays manager Joe Maddon said after Tampa Bay walked 11, had their winning streak snapped at four and dropped to 11-5 on the road.
"Three of their five runs we kind of gave to them," Maddon said. "One was a passed ball, the bases-loaded walk and another where we didn't get to second base in time to get an out.
"But I like the way the guys went after it. It was an intense, well-played game, one that we still could have won."
Cleveland loaded the bases against Joel Peralta (1-2) before Farnsworth came on and issued his first walk in 16 outings.
"It was a tough spot for him," said Maddon, who tried to help the right-hander by employing a five-man infield.
Brantley and Grady Sizemore homered for the Indians, who are 14-2 at home for the first time since becoming an AL charter member in 1901. They are 7-0 this year against AL East teams, a stat that could convince skeptics that they are a legitimate contender this season after losing 93 games in 2010.
Chris Perez (2-1) pitched a scoreless ninth for the win — Cleveland's eighth overall in its last at-bat this year.
"They just continued to go hard," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "You can feel it in the dugout. They just keep saying it's our game. Let's take it. Let's take it. It's our game."
Shin-Soo Choo walked to open the ninth off Peralta before Carlos Santana's single to right sent Choo into third with a headfirst slide. Maddon had Travis Hafner walked to load the bases and brought in Farnsworth.
He also brought in an extra infielder, stationing Elliot Johnson between shortstop and second base, technically as the left fielder, replacing Sam Fuld. The strategy worked for one batter when Orlando Cabrera's bouncer was snagged by leaping shortstop Reid Brignac, who threw home for the force.
However, Farnsworth couldn't find the strike zone and he bounced a 3-2 pitch in the dirt, bringing home Santana and sending the Indians to another dramatic win.
"I just pulled it into the dirt," Farnsworth said. "It was tough because the team battled all through the game."
Both teams missed numerous opportunities. Cleveland was 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position; Tampa Bay went 1 for 10.
Longoria's second homer, a long drive into the bleachers in left-center off reliever Vinnie Pestano, tied it 4-4 in the eighth.
Cleveland's Josh Tomlin had another quality start, allowing three runs and six hits in six innings. The right-hander has gone at least five innings in all 19 of his major league appearances. He was in line to get his fifth win before Longoria touched up Pestano.
The Indians, who were already eight games out of first place at this point last season, snapped a 2-2 tie in the sixth off Brandon Gomes.
Brantley singled with one out and walks to Matt LaPorta and Jack Hannahan loaded the bases. Juan Cruz came on and was lucky to get a glove up near his face and knock down Sizemore's sizzling comebacker before picking up the ball and forcing Brantley at home.
Asdrubal Cabrera then hit a grounder that second baseman Ben Zobrist fielded, but his flip to shortstop Sean Rodriguez wasn't in time to get the speedy Sizemore as LaPorta scored to give Cleveland a 3-2 lead. With Choo up, Rays catcher John Jaso let one of Cruz's pitches get by and roll to the backstop, allowing Hannahan to score.
Joyce's RBI double tied it 2-2 in the sixth.
Brantley's second homer gave the Indians a 2-1 lead in the fourth off Sonnanstine.
The Rays tied it 1-1 in the fourth on Joyce's homer, the eighth given up by Tomlin this season.
Sizemore opened the first with his sixth homer and 22nd leading off a game, extending his club record.
Notes: Since joining the AL in 1998, the Rays are only 14-40 (.259) in Cleveland. ... The start was delayed for 1 hour, 35 minutes by rain that never soaked the ballpark as thunderstorms averted downtown. ... The Indians will activate RHP Carlos Carrasco on Wednesday to start. He has been on the DL since April 28 with a strained elbow. ... Tampa Bay LHP J.P. Howell's comeback is moving forward. The 28-year-old, who hasn't pitched since 2009 and had shoulder surgery last summer, will throw consecutive bullpen sessions later this week. Maddon said it's a sign Howell is "close to coming back."