OAKLAND — Music blared throughout the Cleveland Indians clubhouse. From one track to the next, a few players belted out lyrics. Some could even be heard in the hallway outside.
One thing is for sure: the Indians are making noise again.
Jack Hannahan and Lou Marson had RBI singles in the 12th inning, and the Cleveland Indians matched the best start in franchise history with a 4-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Thursday.
“They’re very resilient and they believe in themselves,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “It’s early, but the amount of times that we have done it late in the games, really kind of gives them confidence.”
A night after their seven-game winning streak was snapped, the Indians won in their final at-bat for the seventh time this season. This is the seventh time the Indians have started 21-9, including 1948 — the last time they won the World Series.
Hannahan’s bloop single to left field off reliever Craig Breslow (0-2) provided the go-ahead run, and Marson followed with a single to propel Cleveland to another late-inning rally. Chad Durbin (2-1) pitched two innings for the win and Chris Perez earned his ninth save in 10 chances.
“It just says we don’t quit,” Perez said. “No matter where we start the rally, we believe that the next guy is going to be able to continue it.”
The Athletics couldn’t quit match the late-game exploits.
Ryan Sweeney had a career-high five hits and added two RBIs for the Athletics, who wasted another strong performance by starter Brett Anderson. He pitched nine innings and got a no-decision.
Oakland stranded 12 runners on base and twice blew chances in extra innings with men in scoring position.
“This was a tough one to lose,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “That’s a game we could have and should have won.”
The Indians again showed why they have been one of baseball’s best and most surprising teams this season.
They overcame Sweeney’s tying RBI double in the eighth against reliever Vinnie Pestano and continually pitched out of jams. Sweeney’s run-scoring single in the 12th brought Oakland within a run before Perez regrouped to get pinch-hitter Hideki Matsui to pop out to short left and end the game.
“They’re a scrappy team that knows how to put runs on the board,” Sweeney said. “They have the best record in baseball for a reason.”
The Indians found a way to outlast another pitcher at his peak for their first series win in Oakland since 2002.
Anderson retired the first 13 batters with relative ease, with only two outs even making it beyond the infield. Not until one out in the fifth inning did a Cleveland hitter finally reach base, and even that took some help.
Travis Hafner hit a hard ground ball to first baseman Daric Barton, who made a diving stop but bobbled the ball trying to transfer it out of his glove and toss it to Anderson hustling to cover the base.
The slow-to-score A’s struggled again to produce at the plate behind a sharp starter pitcher.
Anderson struck out five and allowed seven hits in nine innings, baffling Cleveland’s hitters on a sun-baked day at the Coliseum. He just didn’t get much support, a growing theme for Oakland’s starters this season.
Barton’s two-out, RBI-single in the fifth drove in Mark Ellis to give Oakland a 1-0 lead. The A’s stranded two more runners in the inning, with Conor Jackson grounding out to end the threat.
The Indians briefly got to Anderson with singles from Marson and Michael Brantley to open the sixth. Then Asdrubal Cabrera drove both home with a single up the middle to put the Indians ahead 2-1.
Indians starter Jeanmar Gomez allowed one run, six hits and two walks in 5 2-3 innings and watched the rest of the way after the bullpen blew the lead and his teammates fought back.
“We just keep trying to have quality at-bats throughout the whole game and grind it out,” Marson said. “We’ve been playing well. Big win today. It’s huge.”