But everything finally changed in the ninth. Austin Kearns hit a three-run homer off Baltimore closer Alfredo Simon to spark an eight-run inning that gave Cleveland a stunning 8-2 victory over the Orioles before 29,545 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Ty Wigginton hit a pair of solo homers off Cleveland starter Mitch Talbot to give Baltimore (12-25) a 2-0 lead heading into the ninth. The Orioles turned to Simon, and that's when the trouble began.
Asdrubal Cabrera singled with one out, and Mark Grudzielanek walked. Shin-Soo Choo singled to drive in Cabrera and make it 2-1. Simon (0-1) got ahead of Kearns 0-2 when the left fielder launched a 415-foot moon shot into the left field seats to give Cleveland (14-20) a 4-2 lead.
"I think, just like any at-bat, if you get a mistake, hopefully you don't miss it," Kearns said. "The first three at-bats, I felt like I was all over the place and not comfortable. I got a pitch to handle and didn't pop it up, didn't foul it off, didn't miss it."
The Indians have waited all season for their offense to break out, and it finally did this inning. Cla Meredith came on for the Orioles, and Travis Hafner walked. Jhonny Peralta then singled before Russell Branyan struck out.
Mike Redmond came through with two outs, lining a two-run double to right. Trevor Crowe followed with a two-run homer to make it 8-2.
The Indians had scored just one run in the first 17 innings of this series, and manager Manny Acta was glad to finally see some offense.
"To be honest, I mean, why do you have to let me wait this long," Acta said with a smile. "That's how the game goes. That's the way baseball goes. It's 27 outs, and you've got to play them, every single one of them, and things like this can happen."
But Talbot (5-2) was the main reason the offense had the opportunity to come through. The right-hander shut down the Orioles, limiting them to two runs on five hits in eight solid innings.
Acta said that Talbot's keeping the Indians close proved crucial. Talbot now has won five times in his last six starts, and it's the third time he's gone at least eight innings.
"You've just got to go out and get each hitter and make good pitches," Talbot said. "You've always got to have faith in yourself that you're going to be able to win the game."
The Indians are slowly making a habit of winning games like these. After this victory, nine of their 14 wins are of the come-from-behind variety.
Cleveland needed to rally because Baltimore starter Brian Matusz shut the Tribe down for much of his seven-inning effort. Matusz scattered seven hits while blanking the Indians. He struck out six and walked four, often keeping the Indians off-balance with a good mixture of pitches.
The Orioles took a 1-0 lead when Wigginton homered to left with one out in the second. They made it 2-0 when Wigginton hit another solo homer to left with one out in the seventh.
Meanwhile, it looked like the Indians were going to waste another good Talbot effort. They kept getting runners on base but not getting key hits.
Cleveland's best chance came in the seventh when Lou Marson and Crowe drew walks to start the inning. Cabrera sacrificed to move them to second and third. Grudzielanek lined a shot to right, but Marson didn't want to test the good arm of Baltimore's Nick Markakis and stayed at third base.
Choo grounded to shortstop Cesar Izturis to end the inning. The Indians then got runners on first and second with two outs in the eighth, but Koji Uehara struck out pinch-hitter Grady Sizemore to hold the 2-0 lead.
However, everything changed one inning later, and Acta wants to see more innings like that.
"We put a bunch of good at-bats together," Acta said. "It's just a matter of being patient and knowing that we do have the guys that are capable of doing some of the stuff that we did today."
Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less