Drew Stubbs' RBI fielder's choice groundout in the top of the ninth inning helped the Cleveland Indians slip past the Baltimore Orioles, 4-3, Wednesday in the third installment of a four-game set at Camden Yards.
The Indians entered the ninth trailing 3-2 after Baltimore had a two-run rally of its own in the eighth. Jim Johnson (2-6) took the hill for the hosts and issued a leadoff walk, then a double to Jason Giambi. Carlos Santana was intentionally walked to load the bases, but Cleveland twice grounded out to second. Lonnie Chisenhall's chopper tied the game at 3-3 and Stubbs just beat out a double play attempt to allow the go-ahead run to score.
"I leave a ball up to Giambi on the next pitch after the four-pitch walk," Johnson said. "Now you've got second and third and you have to walk the next guy. So you have bases loaded and nobody out. It doesn't get much worse. At that point, I'm trying to limit the damage, I'm trying to worry about each individual pitch. I came real close to keeping it tied. But obviously I dug myself my own hole."
Jason Kipnis hit a two-run homer, while Joe Smith (4-0) earned the win despite giving up both Baltimore runs in the bottom of the eighth. Vinnie Pestano retired the side in the ninth to secure his fifth save of the season.
"This was one of those games where it would've been a killer loss, but it ends up being a great win," Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Chris Davis, Manny Machado and Nick Markakis all drove in a run for the Orioles, who have dropped five of six.
Davis' sacrifice fly in the seventh off Cleveland starter Scott Kazmir cut Baltimore's deficit to 2-1, and the O's carried over their momentum into the eighth versus Smith.
Pinch-hitter Chris Dickerson walked to put runners on first and second with one out and Alexi Casilla followed with a single to load the bases. Markakis hit a fielder's choice groundout to second that proved to be too high for a double play and allowed J.J. Hardy to cross home and tie the game at 2-2.
Machado then ripped a line-drive single off the left-field wall to break the tie and put the O's ahead 3-2.
Kazmir was superb and looked to be in line for the win for most of the game. He carried a no-hit bid through six innings, but earned a tough no-decision after allowing one unearned run and one hit with four strikeouts over seven frames.
Jason Hammel pitched well for Baltimore, too, yielding two runs on four hits to go along with five strikeouts in seven innings.
It was an old-fashioned pitchers' duel early on, as neither team recorded a hit through the first three innings.
In the fourth, though, Cleveland broke through as Hammel plunked Asdrubal Cabrera with one out. The righty then served up a 3-2 offering over the middle of the plate to Kipnis, who drove the ball into the bullpen in left- center to give the visitors a 2-0 lead.
Kazmir continued to baffle the Orioles' hitters and amassed just 63 pitches and a walk through six frames.
Machado ended Kazmir's no-hit bid by smacking a double down the left-field line to open the seventh.
After Adam Jones popped out, Machado advanced to third on Kazmir's errant pickoff attempt. Davis followed and cut the deficit to 2-1 with a sac fly.
Prior to the game, Cleveland reinstated Cabrera from the 15-day disabled list following a three-week absence caused by a strained right quadriceps. The team designated veteran infielder John McDonald for assignment to make room for the move ... Giambi hit his 400th career double.