ARLINGTON -- Franklin Gutierrez zapped the life out of Rangers starter Vicente Padilla with a 13-pitch at-bat in the fifth inning Sunday. Then he sucked the life out of the Rangers with a single in the ninth inning. His at-bat in the fifth inning resulted in a leadoff double, and he eventually scored. His at-bat in the ninth inning wound up producing the game-winning run for the Indians in a 4-3 victory at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. With Gutierrez coming through in the clutch, the Indians swept the Rangers, moved within 1 1/2 games of the Tigers for third place in the American League Central and have now won a season-high seven straight games.
"Gutierrez had three good at-bats tonight," manager Eric Wedge said. "That'll do it. To have that kind of at-bat -- make the pitcher throw that many pitches -- and wind up with a hit, too, can take a lot out of a pitcher." Padilla was never the same after Gutierrez battled him in a 13-pitch at-bat that ended with Gutierrez standing on second. Padilla surrendered a walk and hit two batters later in the inning to force in the Indians' third run of the night. Padilla, who struck out seven Indians the first three innings, left after the fifth in line for the loss with his club trailing, 3-1. "We put up some good at-bats and made him work," Wedge said. "That was the difference." Unlike the Rangers, the Indians were able to hold off on a call to their depleted bullpen. Entering Sunday, the Indians' bullpen had pitched 16 1/3 innings in its previous five games. As a result, Rafael Perez and closer Jensen Lewis were unavailable once starter Anthony Reyes tuckered out. But Reyes let the bullpen take it easy until the eighth inning. Reyes went seven innings -- his longest appearance of the season -- and threw 107 pitches, 11 more than he'd thrown in a game for the Indians. "I just go out there and pitch until they take me out," Reyes said. "I don't look at pitch counts." Over that span, he allowed just one run on four hits and four walks and he struck out four. His ERA with the Tribe shrank from 2.60 to 2.22. Wedge said it looked like Reyes gained some strength as he neared the end of his start and Reyes agreed. "I felt like I did," Reyes said. "I felt like I struggled a bit early on. I just tried to make my pitches and felt like I got into a bit of a groove as I got going." Unfortunately for Reyes, the bullpen didn't reward him for saving it some work. Juan Rincon entered in the eighth inning with a 3-1 lead, but couldn't even get out of the inning. After getting a quick out, Rincon let on four of the next five batters, allowing a run and leaving with the bases loaded. Rafael Betancourt entered in Rincon's place, and before getting out of the inning, he allowed a walk to the first batter he faced, which forced in the Rangers' second run of the inning and tied the score. "We didn't have Lewis or Perez," Wedge said. "We needed people to step up. Rincon had good stuff at first, but it looked like he started to lose command. Betancourt lost the lead, but he kept it a tied game and I was pleased with how he shut them down in the ninth." When Betancourt entered in the ninth, he had a one-run lead to work with thanks to two of the hottest hitters in the Indians' lineup. Ryan Garko, who is hitting .321 in August, led off the top of the ninth with a single and was pinch-run for by Andy Gonzalez. Gonzalez moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a Gutierrez single. "We're playing real hard every night," Garko said. "We're going to start getting healthy here soon, too, so that will help. We're playing good baseball right now and we're playing hard for our fans." Betancourt retired the Rangers in order in the bottom of the inning for his third victory, giving the Indians 25 wins in their last 39 games. The Indians have also won six straight road games, and if they can win three more in Detroit, they will find themselves in third place in the Central. They haven't been at least tied for third in their division since June 16. "We want to finish as best we can," Wedge said. "We want to finish with as many wins as we can, and we want to finish as high in the standings as we can. We want to make sure we keep getting better as we continue to move through the season."
Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.