CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Indians gave Anthony Rendon a second chance and he made them pay.
Indians first baseman Nick Swisher made an error on Rendon's foul popup with two outs in the ninth, giving Rendon the opportunity to hit his first major league home run and lift the Washington Nationals to a 7-6 win over Cleveland.
The inning appeared to be over when Rendon lifted the popup into foul territory, but neither Swisher nor second baseman Jason Kipnis made a move to catch it and the ball dropped to the ground. Two pitches later, Rendon homered into the Nationals' bullpen off Vinnie Pestano (1-2) to stun the Indians and the crowd of 33,307.
"That shouldn't happen to us but it did and it cost us the game," Swisher said. "It was a little miscommunication. It was something we handled already."
Swisher and Kipnis both drifted into foul territory and it appeared either could have made the catch. Neither player appeared to call for it, but Swisher was charged with the error.
Kipnis took his share of the blame.
"He thought I had it, and I thought he had it," Kipnis said. "Looking back on it, I needed to take more charge of it because it was probably the second baseman's ball."
Kipnis summed it up best when he said, "Vinnie never should have had to throw another pitch, that's for sure."
Indians manager Terry Francona admitted it was a tough way to lose.
"I think Swish thought he was under it, but at the last minute, he wasn't," Francona said. "That's a heartbreaker what happened after that, but that's what happens when you give teams extra outs."
Swisher, who was 1 for 4 with an RBI, was favoring his left shoulder, an injury that caused him to miss several games earlier in the season.
"I'm grinding," said Swisher, who is in a 6-for-55 skid. "I'm the type of guy where I want to be in there every day regardless of what I got going on. Obviously it's starting to physically show a little bit."
Drew Storen (1-1) pitched the eighth for the win, while Rafael Soriano worked the ninth for his 18th save. Mike Aviles doubled with two outs, but first baseman Adam LaRoche made a leaping catch of Michael Bourn's line drive to end the interleague game.
The Indians trailed 5-0 in the third but scored six unanswered runs to take the lead until Chad Tracy's pinch-hit home run off Joe Smith tied the game in the eighth.
Michael Brantley's two-run double in the fifth, along with solo homers by Carlos Santana and Mark Reynolds in the fifth, fueled Cleveland's comeback.
The Indians rallied against Jordan Zimmerman, who couldn't hold the lead and was denied his 10th win of the season. Santana and Reynolds hit back-to-back homers in the fourth before Cleveland scored three times in the fifth, taking the lead on Brantley's two-run double.
"We did a really good job fighting back against one of the best pitchers in the game," Francona said. "It got pretty exciting around the seventh inning on, but we just couldn't finish it off."
Solo home runs by Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond, followed by a two-run third, staked Washington to an early lead, but Jordan Zimmerman allowed six runs in five innings.
Cleveland starter Scott Kazmir gave up five runs, including three homers, in 2 2-3 innings, but Washington was held in check until Tracy, batting for Chris Marrero, homered into Cleveland's bullpen with two outs in the eighth. Tracy has eight career pinch-hit home runs, including two this season.
Ryan Zimmerman and Werth hit back-to-back homers to dead center in the first. Desmond led off the second with a line drive down the left field line that cleared the 19-foot high wall.
Kazmir didn't get through the third when Washington added two runs. A double and two walks loaded the bases with nobody out. LaRoche bounced into a double play that scored Rendon. Kazmir's wild pitch on ball four to Desmond scored Zimmerman and ended Kazmir's night. It was his shortest outing of the season.
Jordan Zimmerman, who hadn't allowed an earned run in his previous two starts, didn't give up a hit until Aviles doubled with one out in the third. Kipnis' two-out single scored Cleveland's first run.
Zimmerman retired the first two hitters in the fourth before Santana homered to right. Reynolds, who entered the game in a 2-for-23 slump, broke a homerless streak of 13 straight games with a blast that landed halfway up the bleachers in left field.
Zimmerman continued to labor in the fifth. Aviles singled with one out and scored on Swisher's single up the middle. Brantley's double into the gap in right-center gave Cleveland a 6-5 lead.
NOTES: RHP Stephen Strasburg will make his first start since May 31 when he pitches in Sunday's series finale. He sustained a strained a back muscle in his last appearance and will be activated from the 15-day disabled list before the game. Manager Davey Johnson said Strasburg won't be on a strict pitch limit. ... Strasburg (3-5) will face RHP Corey Kluber (3-3). ... Indians RHP Chris Perez (shoulder tendinitis) will pitch one inning on a minor league assignment for Class A Lake County on Sunday. Perez spoke to the media Saturday, but took no questions about being charged with misdemeanor drug possession after marijuana was mailed to his home earlier this month. ... Johnson said OF Bryce Harper developed a little puffiness in his sore left knee after doing some lower body exercises. Harper might begin baseball-related activities in a few days.