Indians suffer another late-inning defeat

Indians suffer another late-inning defeat

DETROIT -- Saturday night was far from the high-scoring contest that the Indians and Tigers played on July 25, but just as with that game and Friday's series-opener, Cleveland's outcome rested on its bullpen.

Unlike the July 25 game, Cleveland could not come out with a win as they lost to the Tigers, 4-3. Fausto Carmona found himself one out away from securing an Indians victory. Instead he blew his third save and took the hard-luck loss for the fourth time in as many appearances.

On Saturday, the right-hander's outing was all-too-similar to his last appearance three nights ago in Boston, only this time he left the bullpen in relief of Jason Davis, not Rafael Betancourt.

Carmona came on to close at the start of the ninth only to be greeted by Brandon Inge's first-pitch bunt single. Carmona put away the next two Detroit batters before Pudge Rodriguez sent the Cleveland reliever's first pitch into the left-field seats.

The blown save was Cleveland's 18th in 34 opportunities and left manager Eric Wedge searching for answers.

"We just have to take a look at everything," Wedge said. "We still feel like Fausto's got closer's stuff."

Afterward, Carmona said he felt he had been on track but picked a bad time to fall off course.

"I just missed that pitch," Carmona said. "I was feeling good, I was throwing the ball well. I just missed that pitch."

Cleveland's latest setback spoiled starter Paul Byrd's 6 2/3 innings in which he allowed two runs -- one earned -- and picked up his third consecutive no-decision. Byrd last won a 7-6 decision over the Angels on July 19.

Byrd did not blame Carmona, however. After all, Byrd surrendered seven runs on 10 hits in the three innings he pitched on July 25.

"[Carmona's] been pitching great for what three months now?" Byrd said. "There's not a lot of 22-year-olds that pitch up here but he is. I've been around for over 10 years and played since '91 and my [previous] two outings [were] disastrous. You gotta pick yourself up."

Because Byrd has been in similar circumstances, he had an idea how to reassure the Indians closer.

"I told Fausto that he's going to be fine," Byrd said. "If you can't deal with failure in this game, you don't stick around very long so you give it your best, you hold your head high and just wake up in the morning and come back to work."

Based on Carmona's overall performance this season, Byrd believes good things are still to come for the closer.

"He's going to be fine," Byrd said. "He has too good of stuff and is too good of a competitor to not be able to get guys out over the long haul. I like his aggressiveness too. He goes right after it."

Until the final pitch, it looked as if Byrd's fine defensive play in the third inning would be an Indians game-saver.

After Marcus Thames struck out on a foul tip, Brandon Inge singled, but Curtis Granderson hit a comebacker and Byrd turned a nice inning-ending double play to ensure an early 3-0 lead.

Four innings later Byrd led, 3-1, in the seventh inning, and found himself one out from escaping a scoreless frame when Casey Blake could not field Inge's grounder which led to Detroit's second run. After Byrd issued a walk to Granderson, Placido Polanco's RBI single cut the Tribe lead to 3-2 and knocked Byrd out of the game.

"It was tough for me that last inning because I wanted to pick Casey Blake up so bad," Byrd said.

Blake's night did not get any better from there, either.

With one out in the top of the ninth, Joe Inglett lined into a double play, and while Blake scampered back to second base, he stepped awkwardly on the bag. After the play, Blake lay on the ground and was eventually helped off the field.

Sam Miller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.