CLEVELAND -- Seth Smith struck as quickly as an approaching storm to give the Colorado Rockies a win they thought they already had.
With lightning flashing, thunder rattling and rain falling, Smith hit his second homer of the game to snap a ninth-inning tie as the Rockies held Cleveland hitless into the sixth, blew a lead, then beat the Indians 4-3 Tuesday night."This was a huge character game," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "To hold a first-place team hitless, give up the lead, and win like that is huge."Smith connected off Cleveland closer Chris Perez (2-3), hitting a 2-2 pitch into the right-field seats for his eighth homer of the season and fourth career multihomer game."I just tried to drown everything out and focus," Smith said. "In the outfield, I wondered if I'd get hit by lightning. At bat, I just tried to put a good swing on a pitch."It was the first homer allowed by Perez in nearly a year. He had worked 60 1/3 innings over 62 outings since Cincinnati's Joey Votto took him deep last June 27."It was a hanging slider," Perez said. "I just didn't come through. It happens."Smith's shot made a winner of Matt Belisle (5-2), who worked one inning. Huston Street pitched the ninth for his major league-leading 22nd save in 24 chances -- though it was far from easy."We felt like this was a win we should have already had. It's never nerve-wracking -- unless you don't get it done," said Street, who yielded a two-out triple to Cord Phelps, then walked Asdrubal Cabrera."That was sort of an unintentional intentional walk," Street said. "He's their best hitter after they pulled (Travis) Hafner earlier."With pinch-hitter Austin Kearns at the plate, Cabrera stole second, a move Tracy feared."They flip a single out there, we lose," he said.Cleveland could not get another key hit for its 10th last at-bat at Progressive Field this year as Street struck out Kearns on a 2-2 slider.Jason Giambi had three hits for the Rockies, who have won six of seven and moved over .500 for the first time since they were 24-23 on May 24.Cleveland's offensive woes continued. Since taking a seven-game lead in the AL Central on May 23, the Indians are 9-18 and have scored two or fewer runs 14 times.Jhoulys Chacin held them hitless into the sixth. Cleveland's bats came alive against Colorado's bullpen in the eighth.Trailing 3-1, Hafner lined an RBI single off former teammate Rafael Betancourt. With runners on first and second, Belisle got two outs before Travis Buck snapped an 0-for-24 streak with an RBI single to right for a 3-all tie.In 6 2/3 innings, Chacin walked six, including two with one out in the sixth before Shin-Soo Choo grounded an RBI single up the middle on a 1-1 pitch for Cleveland's first hit to pull the Indians to 3-1.Smith connected for a two-run shot off Mitch Talbot with two outs in the top of the sixth. Jonathan Herrera's two-out RBI single put Colorado ahead 1-0 in the fifth.Chacin was lifted after giving up a two-out triple to Lou Marson in the seventh.The Indians had a chance early against the right-hander, loading the bases with two outs in the third on three consecutive walks. Chacin came back to strike out Hafner on a 3-2 sinker. He got 10 outs on grounders and struck out seven."He was marvelous, except for a couple speed bumps -- those walks," Tracy said. "He made potentially 40 more pitches and I was facing a real difficult decision. I've got a 23-year-old with a strong future and I may have to take him out with a no-hitter. That's the last thing I wanted to do."Chacin, 3-0 with a 1.01 ERA in June, said he felt strong even after making 115 pitches."I lost my focus with those walks," he said. "They got the hit and I still wanted to put up zeroes."Talbot worked out of a second-inning jam by getting the Rockies to pound the ball into the ground. Giambi doubled and went to third on a single by Smith. The crafty right-hander then got Ty Wigginton to hit a one-hopper back to him. The pitcher checked Giambi at third and threw to second for the out, then got Charlie Blackmon to ground into an inning-ending double play.Talbot allowed three runs and eight hits over 6 1/3 innings.
There has never been a no-hitter at Progressive Field, which opened in 1994. ... Hafner has 24 RBIs and is 17 for 33 (.515) with runners in scoring position. ... Indians manager Manny Acta reiterated his support of RHP Fausto Carmona and OF Grady Sizemore, but admitted the Indians must start getting better production from both former All-Stars. Sizemore grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth. Since May 27, he has hit only .188 (16 for 85). Carmona is 1-5 with a 9.73 ERA since May 19. ... Tracy plans to rest 1B Todd Helton on Wednesday to give the 37-year-old an extra break with Colorado off Thursday. ... Rockies LHP Rex Brothers, who pitched Sunday and Monday, was unavailable. ... Rockies RHP Esmil Rogers (strained muscle in back) played catch in Denver. He's been on the DL since May 2.