Cleveland, OH – Drew Stubbs slid home safely on a ball hit by Jason Kipnis in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Cleveland Indians a 2-1 win over the Washington Nationals.
Fernando Abad (0-1) gave up back-to-back one-out singles to Stubbs and Michael Bourn in the ninth. Bourn's grounder went to right field when second baseman Steve Lombardozzi vacated the area to cover the base on a hit-and-run. Bourn then stole second.
Then, on a 3-2 pitch Kipnis hit a sharp grounder to first base. Adam LaRoche made a diving stop, and from his knees threw to the plate. Stubbs was able to slide under the sweeping tag from Kurt Suzuki.
Kipnis, who veered to the grassy side of the first base line, may have impeded the lane of LaRoche's throw to the plate. Home plate umpire Brian Knight didn't see it that way and the Indians posted their third straight win following an eight-game skid.
"Fortunately Stubbs got a good break because that was a heck of a play by LaRoche," Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Washington's Gio Gonzalez and Cleveland's Justin Masterson matched each other on the mound with both starters throwing seven innings and combining for 18 strikeouts.
The Nationals had just two hits in the opener of this three-game series.
"He had great stuff and kept us in it. We just couldn't get it going," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said of his team's offense.
After loading the bases in the third inning, the Nationals broke on top when Suzuki came home when Masterson bounced a pitch low and outside. The Nats failed to pad their lead though as Ryan Zimmerman struck out and LaRoche grounded out.
Ryan Raburn homered to right-center field in the fourth inning.
The Indians wasted a bases-loaded opportunity in the sixth when Mark Reynolds popped out and again in the eighth with one down when Reynolds fanned and Michael Brantley lined out to center.
Joe Smith (3-0) worked a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up the victory.
Washington shortstop Ian Desmond had a career-high 15-game hitting streak broken ... The Indians went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base.