CLEVELAND -- Zach McAllister stood in Cleveland's clubhouse, flanked by reporters, answering for the critical seventh-inning throwing error that cost the Indians in a loss to the Rangers on Monday. Not long after the pitcher's terse replies, it was starter Shaun Marcum who shouldered the blame.
McAllister's gaffe came long after Marcum's exit, and followed a series of rallies by the Cleveland offense and a few admirable innings by the bullpen. There were mistakes late -- two throwing errors in the decisive seventh inning chief among them -- but Marcum's abbreviated performance for the Tribe paved the way for the ugly loss.
It all added up to the end of the Indians' season-high six-game winning streak, which was powered by stellar starting pitching. Cleveland had not won seven straight since its 10-game streak to end the 2013 season. Another seven-game run was not in the cards given Marcum's showing on an offense-oriented evening at Progressive Field.
"I put ourselves in a hole early," Marcum said. "Those guys did a great job of fighting and battling. The offense did a good job of coming back and giving us a chance."
Over the previous six wins, Cleveland's rotation went a combined 6-0 with a 1.51 ERA. In that span, the starting staff allowed seven runs as a group in 41 2/3 innings (or nearly seven innings per game). That included a solid start from Marcum on Wednesday, when he held the White Sox to two runs over 6 2/3 innings in Chicago.
Marcum yielded seven runs on four hits, including consecutive home runs to Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre in the first inning, in only 2 2/3 innings in Monday's loss.
"Shaun left some balls middle and [you] saw where they went," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "The guys that he left balls up to, Beltre and Fielder, are very good offspeed hitters. Those are guys that, if you make a mistake, that's what they can do to it."
The Indians' offense mounted an early comeback, giving Marcum a 5-3 lead to work with in the third inning. The veteran right-hander retired Delino DeShields and Shin-Soo Choo to open the inning, but then watched Fielder slash an offering into the left-center field gap for a two-out double. Then came an intentional walk to Beltre and another free pass to Josh Hamilton to load the bases.
Mitch Moreland followed with a game-tying, two-run single that chased Marcum from the contest. After he exited the game, Indians reliever Ryan Webb allowed a two-run double to Elvis Andrus to put the final touches on Marcum's line. The 33-year-old righty ended with six strikeouts and three walks.
"It's very frustrating," Marcum said. "I want to go out there and give these guys a good start and give them a chance to win. I wasn't able to do that. Even warming up in the bullpen, I felt like everything was up. I've just got to keep working on my mechanics in-between starts and try to get better next time."
Marcum did manage to escape with a no-decision when the Tribe's offense rallied to not only tie the game, but take an 8-7 lead in the sixth inning. One frame later, though, one throwing error each for lefty Marc Rzepczynski and McAllister opened the door for a two-run push that helped Texas take the lead for good.
With two outs in the seventh, McAllister induced a weak chopper from Hamilton with runners on first and second base. The pitcher gloved the roller, but then fired a wild throw well beyond the reach of first baseman Carlos Santana. The blunder allowed Fielder to score from second to put the Rangers ahead, 9-8.
"It's a play that has to be made. It's a play that should be made," McAllister said.