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Lofton's magical postseason continues

Lofton's magical postseason continues

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CLEVELAND -- Kenny Lofton's teammates can finally back off.

Since he came to Cleveland at July's trading deadline, Lofton kept telling the fellows a home run was coming. He hit seven with the Rangers this season, and he maintained he was only missing these long balls by inches in Cleveland.

"He's been talking about just missing balls since he got here," Tribe first baseman Ryan Garko said.

But enough talk, his teammates said. Let's see some action.

"The guys, they've been ragging me for it," Lofton said.

Well, stop the ragging. On Monday night, for the first time since July 25, No. 7 left the park. And man, what a knack for timing this guy has.

Lofton continued his magical postseason return tour with the Tribe as he hit a two-run homer in the second inning to put the Indians ahead in their 4-2 victory over the Red Sox in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series.

The 40-year-old Lofton, who is hitting .308 in the playoffs and has answered seemingly every clutch call throughout the postseason, also became the seventh oldest player in history to homer in a postseason game.

"He's a big-game player. He likes the stage," manager Eric Wedge said. "It's important for people to understand just what it takes to be a big-game player. ... This is a guy who has a lot of experience in the postseason and understands how to slow himself down. He understands just what it takes to have the right heartbeat."

How exactly Lofton keeps the right heartbeat is a good question. The only link to the Tribe's glory days in the '90s, Lofton has consistently received the most piercing cheers during this postseason run.

And chants of "Kenny, Kenny" rocked the park as he strode to the plate in the bottom of the second inning.

Yet Lofton coolly stepped in, just "trying to be aggressive." And on Boston starter Daisuke Matsuzaka's first-pitch fastball, Lofton launched it just over the wall in right-center field.

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Expectedly, the sellout crowd went wild. Yet the thing was, they never stopped. The fans, still standing, demanded a curtain call for nearly a minute after the blast. Finally, Lofton relented.

Quite an atmosphere to keep oneself "slowed down" in.

"I got lucky," he said, laughing.

So Lofton even foresaw that luck? Guess so, he said.

"I told Garko yesterday, 'I keep missing them, I don't know what's going on,'" Lofton said. "I said, 'One day, I'm going to square one up and it's going to go out.'"

Then he paused and smiled.

"It happened today."

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

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