CLEVELAND (AP) -- The Cleveland Indians will have a hard time
topping this three-game series.
"This is probably the most exciting win of the season," said
Lou Merloni, whose pinch-hit single sparked the winning rally. "To
beat a team like Oakland three straight like this is just huge."
The Indians, whose bullpen has 12 blown of 17 save
opportunities, have won four straight after losing a season-high
seven in a row.
"That's baseball and that's why you play a long season,"
Lawton said. "You try not to get too down. We've had some
frustrating losses, but hung in there."
Omar Vizquel, whose throwing error helped Oakland score twice in
the top of the ninth, had a tying RBI double off Rhodes (1-3) as
Cleveland swept the Athletics with two wins in their last at-bat
and an eighth-inning rally.
"When you get these heartbreaking losses like this, one after
the next, it kind of wears on you," Oakland shortstop Bobby Crosby
Merloni singled to open the ninth off Rhodes, who had his second
blown save in two days and fourth in 12 chances.
Two outs later, Lawton walked and pinch-runner John McDonald
Vizquel then pulled his double to left, scoring McDonald and
sending Lawton to third.
"He likes to challenge people, so I was looking fastball,"
Vizquel said. "He's tough, but struggling right now."
Pitching coach Curt Young visited Rhodes on the mound, but the
left-hander bounced a pitch all the way to the backstop and the
Indians poured out of the dugout to greet Lawton at home plate.
"I'm mad about it," said Rhodes, who said he got the signs
crossed with catcher Adam Melhuse. "It was supposed to be a
cutter, but he thought hard slider."
Crosby drew a leadoff walk and former Indians minor leaguer
Marco Scutaro followed with a bloop single to left over Vizquel.
The shortstop threw wildly to third trying to get Crosby, who
scored. Scutaro went all the way to third when Jimenez couldn't
track down the ball as it rolled along the warning track behind
"I was really surprised it got past two players," Vizquel
said. "But it was my mistake for throwing to third. I should have
thrown to second because that guy was the go-ahead run."
Kotsay, who went 7-for-9 in the three-game series, then singled
Before Kotsay delivered, the Athletics were 1-for-10 in the game
and 6-for-33 in the series with runners in scoring position.
Cleveland had taken a 2-1 lead in the eighth on an RBI single by
Travis Hafner, who went 6-for-7 in the three games.
The blown save by Jimenez was his second of the season and first
in two chances since being named the Indians' closer on Wednesday.
But Indians relievers went 3-0 in the series.
Oakland starter Tim Hudson allowed two runs on 11 hits over
eight innings. He is 13-1 with a 1.72 ERA over his last 19 daytime
starts since June 2002.
"A great performance by Huddy," Oakland manager Ken Macha
said. "We've got to get three outs in the ninth for him."
Crosby put Oakland ahead 1-0 with the third of three straight
two-out singles in the second inning off Cleveland starter Jason
Cleveland tied it in the third. Vizquel doubled into the
right-field corner, advanced on a groundout and scored on a single
by Victor Martinez.
Davis allowed one run and six hits over 6 1-3 innings, walking
three and striking out a season-high five.
Vizquel is 3-for-27 in his career against Rhodes. He
singled off him Saturday night in Cleveland's three-run eighth that
won the game 8-6 after Casey Blake's walkoff homer against Jim
Mecir won Friday night's game 1-0. ... Oakland C Damian Miller left
with a bruised left elbow after being hit by a pitch from Davis in
the fourth. ... Indians 1B Ben Broussard snapped an 0-for-27 slump
with a single off the glove of diving third baseman Eric Chavez in