Indians kickoff homestand with 2-1 walkoff win
Cleveland, OH -- Jason Kipnis hit a run-scoring fielder's choice in the bottom of the ninth that plated Drew Stubbs from third as the Cleveland Indians beat the Washington Nationals in the opener of a three-game series, 2-1.
With the win, the Indians have now won three games in a row after losing eight in a row. The Tribe pitching staff has allowed two runs or fewer in all three games. Cleveland now trails the Detroit Tigers by 4.5 games in the American League Central.
"Losing eight or nine in a row is not the character of this team," Stubbs said. "We just needed a few breaks to go our way to turn things around."
With runners on second and third following a steal by center fielder Michael Bourn, Kipnis hit a one-out shot to first baseman Adam LaRoche who failed to throw home to catch the speedy Stubbs. The walk-off RBI was the third of Kipnis' career and his second this season.
"You have to respect the speed," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "It was a heck of a play by LaRoche, but fortunately, Stubbs went on contact, and his speed beat the throw."
Much of the game involved a pitching duel between Indians starter Justin Masterson and Nationals lefty Gio Gonzalez. The pitchers finished with remarkably similar stat lines, with both allowing one run in seven innings of work, while walking four. Masterson struck out 10 batters and now has 102 on the season. Gonzalez finished with eight punch outs.
After three of the first four hitters reached in the top of the third, Masterson allowed his only run of the game on a wild pitch that scampered all the way to the back stop. He did retire the next two hitters to work out of a runners on second and third jam.
The Nationals lineup picked up just two hits, while struggling to make contact against Tribe pitchers. Jayson Werthfinished with three strikeouts while three other hitters finished with two apiece.
Cleveland picked up its only run off Gonzalez in the bottom of the fourth when Ryan Raburn hit a two-out solo homer, his eighth of the season, to tie the game. Raburn, who was hitting in the cleanup spot for the first time this season, is now 7-for-13 against Gonzalez in his career with three home runs.
Following the game, Masterson was relieved to pick up a win despite a strong performance by Gonzalez.
"He's their workhorse," Masterson said of Gonzalez. "Our guys kept saying, 'Wait him out, wait him out.' And we finally got him out of the game."
Tyler Clippard worked around two hits and walk to pitch a scoreless eighth. Fernando Abad (0-1, 1.00) allowed the game-winning run. He allowed two hits and a fielder's choice while retiring just one batter.
Cleveland will continue their three-game series with Washington on Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. Scott Kazmir (3-4, 5.33) will take the mound for the Indians against Nationals starter Jordan Zimmerman (9-3, 2.00).
Notes: Stephen Strasburg (strained right lat) is scheduled to come off the disabled list on Sunday to start against the Indians. … Gonzalez is 5-0 lifetime against the Tribe with a 0.72 ERA.
Nathan Kemp graduated from The University of Akron in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in English. He plans to pursue a graduate degree through NEOMFA in the fall. Follow him on Twitter @NathanCKemp.