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Indians rout Houston 9-2 to maintain wild card possession

Offense erupts in series finale as Tribe completes sweep of 'Stros

Indians rout Houston 9-2 to maintain wild card possession
September 22, 2013
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Cleveland, OH -- With a 9-2 victory over the Houston Astros, the Cleveland Indians swept their sixth four-game series of the season, becoming the first team to do so since the 1961 New York Yankees.

The '61 Yankees, a team that featured sluggers Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, won the World Series that year.

Michael Brantley and Michael Bourn each had two RBIs as Cleveland clings to their possession of one of the American League's two wild-card spots with a week left in the regular season. With six games to go, Cleveland controls its own destiny.

"We've got a week to go and we're in a fun spot," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We have to keep winning."

As long as they win, the Indians will make the playoffs and upcoming games against the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins should make winning easier. Both of the remaining Tribe opponents are having rough seasons and fill the two bottom slots in the American League Central.

"It has been one of those crazy years, a roller-coaster," said first baseman Nick Swisher. "We've had some great winning streaks and some great losing streaks. We've had everything, but I think that's just a testament to us pulling together and staying tight."

Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth, the Indians scored three in the inning to take the lead. They never looked back. Jason Kipnis singled to open the inning and scored when Carlos Santana doubled to deep center. After Astros starter Erik Bedard recorded two outs and walked one, Brantley singled to center, scoring Santana from second. Mike Aviles followed with another single, plating a third run.

The Tribe struck for four more in the bottom of the sixth, driving Bedard from the game. After the first two runners reached, Brantley singled again to center, scoring Asdrubal Cabrera from second.

Philip Humber replaced Bedard after the single but failed to provide much relief. After a sacrifice bunt moved runners to second and third, Bourn tripled to right, scoring two. Swisher ended the onslaught with a sacrifice fly, making the score 7-2.

"When we're clicking on all cylinders, we're hard to deal with," Bourn said. "We just keep fighting. We have a lot of ways to beat you. We can win with our pitching and we can win with our offense, too. We always know that and we always try to have each other's backs."

Bedard (4-12, 4.81) failed to retire a batter in the sixth and allowed six earned runs over five-plus innings of work. He surrendered eight hits and two walks while striking out eight.

Aviles singled home a run with two outs in the seventh. Santana homered to right, his 19th of the season, to score the ninth and final run in the eighth.

Corey Kluber (10-5, 3.61) allowed two runs early, but settled down to pitch five and one-third innings of two-run ball. He held the Astros to just six hits while striking out six. Seven Cleveland reliever combined for three and two-thirds innings of scoreless relief, scattering three hits and six walks.

Poor attendance has been an issue all year for the Indians, but 26,168, the largest Sunday crowd this season, turned out watch them vie for a playoff bid.

"The atmosphere at the ballpark the last couple nights has been great," Francona said. "It should be. This is a fun team to watch."

After an off-day Monday, the Indians will begin a brief, two-game series against the Chicago White Sox. Game one will be played Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. as Hector Santiago (4-9, 3.53) takes on Ubaldo Jimenez (12-9, 3.39).

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.

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