CLEVELAND -- When it comes to Jeremy Sowers and the Indians' bullpen, not much has changed in the past four months. Sowers, more often than not, pitches well enough to win but usually picks up a no-decision or a loss, while the Tribe's beleaguered 'pen has found it difficult to keep the floodgates from opening. But the change that has occurred over the past two nights at Progressive Field centers on the Tribe offense, which has all of a sudden found some resiliency in a season that has certainly required it.
It showed Tuesday night when the Indians, after staking Sowers and the bullpen to a three-run lead only to see it evaporate into a tie, rallied back with two runs in the eighth inning to beat the Orioles, 7-5, and collect their fifth straight win before 21,143 fans. "They just keep coming at them," manager Eric Wedge said. "That's what we're all about and that's the way it should be." That hasn't been commonplace for most of the season, though, as Cleveland came into Tuesday's game just 3-13 when the game is tied after seven innings and 2-11 if its tied after the eighth. Those numbers need not apply to the first two games in a four-game set with the Orioles, a similar out-of-contention club plagued by a self-destructive bullpen. But the numbers did apply to Sowers and the rough time he has had in the first inning. The young left-hander raised his first-inning ERA to 9.00 on Tuesday after he put the first two runners he faced in scoring position before Melvin Mora brought home the first with an RBI single and Aubrey Huff plated the second with a sacrifice fly to put the Tribe in an early 2-0 hole. "He has to do a better job of having it when he gets out there instead of working his way into it," Wedge said. The Tribe's bats had it when they came up for their first at-bats against O's lefty Garrett Olson. All nine hitters came to the plate as Jhonny Peralta, Ryan Garko, Franklin Gutierrez and Andy Marte all collected RBI singles to give Sowers a 4-2 cushion before he came back for the second inning. "Any time your team scores four runs out the gate, especially after you give up two to start, it's a good confidence boost," Sowers said. "It's always more fun to pitch with the lead." The fun continued when the Indians gave him more to work with in the fourth inning. Asdrubal Cabrera led off with a double and scored on a sharp hit ball by Jamey Carroll, which Mora bobbled before throwing into the seats on the first-base line. It wouldn't be enough to make things uninteresting for once, though, as the Tribe bats went cold and the O's heated up against Sowers and the Indians' bullpen. After adding a run in the fifth inning, the Orioles chased Sowers in the seventh before they collected back-to-back RBI singles off Masa Kobayashi and Rafael Perez, respectively, to tie it at 5. It could have been worse, as Perez stifled the threat by inducing Mora into a groundball double play to maintain the tie. "Masa didn't have it tonight," Wedge said, "but Perez picked him up and carried it to the next inning as well." Cleveland's bats followed Perez's lead when they got to Baltimore reliever Jim Johnson in the bottom of the eighth. Shin-Soo Choo took a fastball to the side to get on first before advancing to second on a Marte sacrifice bunt. Cabrera brought the go-ahead run home with a sharp single up the middle to break the tie and reclaim a lead they really shouldn't have had to reclaim in the first place. "He's been really playing some good baseball," Wedge said of Cabrera, who went 3-for-4 Tuesday and is hitting .301 since he was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo on July 18. "He's put some really good at-bats together. The kid's really worked hard in Buffalo and he's really worked hard up here." After Ben Francisco's RBI single gave him an insurance run to work with, Jensen Lewis, the latest reliever to get his chance as a closer, made quick work of the O's in the ninth inning. He struck out the final two Orioles hitters to pick up his second career save, cap the 1-2-3 inning and close another see-saw night at Progressive Field. "It's been back and forth," Wedge said, "but, overall, it's been pretty good baseball."
Andrew Gribble is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.