Thirteen proved to be an unlucky number for the slumping Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday night at Cleveland, but there are only lucky numbers for Albert Belle right now.
Belle hit a 3-and-2 pitch for a two-out, two-run home run in the bottom of the 13th inning to give the Indians a 4-2 victory, their sixth victory in a row.
Belle's 12th home run followed a bloop single by Carlos Baerga that popped out of the glove of stumbling shortstop Jose Valentin.
It came against Bob Scanlan (0-3) and handed the Brewers their eighth defeat in a row. While the Brewers (17-22) were sinking deeper into the cellar in the American League Central, the Indians moved to within half a game of first place.
Belle, who has hit safely in 14 games in a row, had four hits Thursday night and has reached base on 16 of his last 17 plate appearances. In raising his average to .390, Belle has had eight hits, seven walks, was hit by a pitch and made an out in his last 17 at bats.
For eight innings Cleveland fans were treated to a bit of pitching nostalgia as two of the best pitchers of the 1980s, Ted Higuera and Jack Morris, pitched brilliantly.
Higuera, 35, blanked the Indians on two hits until Belle doubled and Candy Maldonado hit an opposite-field home run. Morris, who turned 39 Monday, gave up a two-run single in the fifth with two out to Turner Wark. Morris struck out six in 7 2/3 innings and has fanned 15 in his last two outings, in 13 2/3 innings.
Belle almost won the game for the Indians in the ninth but was out trying to score on a pitch that bounced a few feet away from catcher Dave Nilsson.
Although he gave up only six hits in eight innings, Higuera still hasn't beaten the Indians since August, 1989.
Boston 3, Baltimore 2--Oriole relief pitchers have been sensational lately, but they aren't getting chances to win or save games.
Andre Dawson tagged a pitch from Sid Fernandez in the eighth inning at Baltimore for his eighth home run to break a 2-2 tie and give Danny Darwin a 7-2 record.
When Alan Mills and Jim Poole combined to pitch a scoreless ninth, it gave the Orioles' bullpen a record of one earned run in the last 24 innings. Yet, the Orioles have lost five of their last six games to fall three games behind the Red Sox in the East. The Red Sox pulled to within half a game of the division-leading New York Yankees.
Seattle 5, Texas 4--Matt Whiteside walked Mike Blowers with the bases loaded and two out in the ninth inning at Seattle as the Mariners rallied for the victory.
The Rangers, after building a 4-0 lead, still led 4-3 going into the ninth. But the Mariners scored twice after two were out. Rich Amaral singled in the tying run.
NATIONAL LEAGUE Cincinnati 3, Atlanta 0--Erik Hanson (3-3) gave up only five hits and struck out seven in eight innings at Cincinnati in his best outing of his first season with the Reds.
John Smoltz (2-6) didn't merely lose his fifth in a row, he suffered a severely bruised leg while tagging out Tony Fernandez at the plate in the first inning. He gave up only three hits and two runs, one of them unearned in seven innings.
The Reds (25-14) got all the offense they needed when Barry Larkin hit Smoltz's first pitch of the game for his third home run.
Houston 9, San Diego 5--The Padres wiped out a four-run deficit in the sixth inning at Houston, but that was as close as they got to ending their franchise-tying losing streak, which has now reached 11.
In June, 1969, the Padres also lost 11 in a row.