Beltre's pinch homer sinks Indians in 11th

Beltre's pinch homer sinks Indians in 11th

Beltre's pinch homer sinks Indians in 11th
CLEVELAND -- This wasn't exactly The Natural, with Roy Hobbs hitting a pennant-winning home run into the lights high above right field and then running around the bases with blood dripping from his stomach.

Adrian Beltre and the Rangers couldn't care less. On a windy May night in Cleveland, and a three-game losing streak begging to be broken, this was quite sufficient. The Rangers needed a victory, not Hollywood dramatics, and Beltre delivered it.

Beltre, pinch-hitting in the top of the 11th inning, hit a three-run home run off right-handed sidearm reliever Joe Smith to give the Rangers a 5-2 victory over the Indians at Progressive Field on Saturday night.

It was a victory that the Rangers openly admitted afterwards they needed badly, especially considering they led 2-0 going into the bottom of the eighth and couldn't close it out.

"Yes we did," manager Ron Washington said. "This is our biggest win of the year so far. We've been spinning our wheels and not getting anywhere."

The Rangers' three-game losing streak took place while Beltre has been sidelined with a strained left hamstring. His only action since being used as designated hitter on Monday against Toronto was a long fly out to end Friday night's loss.

But he was ready when the Rangers needed him in the 11th inning with a full moon rising.

"That was nice ... I found a way to help my team win," Beltre said. "We've been going through a tough stretch lately. I'm not in the lineup but it felt good to help my team win."

Derek Holland, who allowed 12 runs over 13 innings in his two previous starts, dominated for most of the night. He took a three-hit shutout into the eighth inning and was trying to protect a 2-0 lead. But the Indians scored two off him and reliever Mike Adams to send the game into extra innings. Alexi Ogando, with two scoreless innings, ended up with the victory and Joe Nathan earned his seventh save.

"Derek did a great job," Washington said. "We know it's in him. It's a matter of going out and commanding his fastball. He did just that and that was the difference."

The Rangers just couldn't get him more support against Indians starter Derek Lowe or three relievers, mainly because they hit into three double plays at inopportune moments -- costing them potentially big rallies that could have broken the game open.

On Saturday, Texas had to wait until the 11th inning before somebody finally delivered a big hit.

"Obviously that was huge," first baseman Michael Young said. "We really needed it because the last three or four games we haven't been getting the big hit. Hopefully we can build on that and get the momentum we need."

Craig Gentry got the 11th-inning rally started by drawing a walk off Smith and was forced at second by Nelson Cruz on a grounder. Mike Napoli followed with a slow grounder to third baseman Jack Hannahan, who threw to first for the out. Cruz moved into scoring position with Mitch Moreland, a left-handed hitter, coming up.

Indians manager Manny Acta had left-hander Tony Sipp warming in the bullpen. But he knew Beltre was ready to pinch-hit at anytime and was concerned it would be for Moreland.

"Every matchup we had, it was better pitching to the next guy," Acta said. "You have to give him credit. It was my decision. We all know that Smith is better against right-handed hitters. If you bring in Sipp, then Beltre was going to hit against Sipp and I didn't want that matchup.

"[Smith] has always pitched well against Beltre up until tonight. You have to give him credit. I made the decision. I don't second-guess myself. Some will work, some won't, but I'll sleep fine because I don't second-guess myself.

Beltre, who was told as early as the seventh inning to be ready, then stepped in for Alberto Gonzalez. He did so while being 0-for-5 off Smith prior to that at-bat.

"I knew I didn't hit him well," Beltre said. "I didn't know how many at-bats, but I didn't feel comfortable before facing him. But I got a good pitch middle away and hit it."

Beltre did, smashing a 1-0 sinking fastball deep over the center-field wall.

"He got the pitch he wanted and jumped all over it ... he crushed it," outfielder Josh Hamilton said.

"The boy can hit, that's for sure, so you have to bring your game when you face him," Smith said. "If you leave a fastball up in the zone, apparently he doesn't miss it."

"That's tough to do, coming off the bench on a cold night and not having many at-bats," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "But he hammered that ball ... great timing."

That was sufficient for the Rangers' purposes.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.