Jose Mesa, the Indians’ best friend as a relief pitcher, became his own worst enemy Tuesday night in Cleveland.
Mesa, who had converted 28 save opportunities in a row since Sept. 3, walked four batters and committed a throwing error in the ninth inning of a 10-7 loss to the Seattle Mariners.
His boss was stunned.
“I was trying to remember the last time I had to get somebody warmed up in the bullpen with Jose on the mound,” Indian Manager Mike Hargrove said. “His ball was moving so much he couldn’t keep it in the strike zone.”
He also couldn’t hold things in check for Cleveland, which had rallied from a 6-3 deficit with the help of Albert Belle’s 22nd homer of the season.
Mesa (0-1) gave up four runs without recording an out.
It began when he yielded a pinch-hit single to Doug Strange to open the ninth inning and walked pinch-hitter Darren Bragg. Alex Rodriguez then laid down a sacrifice bunt that Mesa fielded, but threw past third base, allowing Strange to score.
After Ken Griffey Jr. was intentionally walked, Edgar Martinez walked to force home Bragg with the deciding run. Mesa walked Jay Buhner, forcing home another run.
Joey Cora lined a bases-loaded single to right off Paul Assenmacher later in the inning for the final run.
Rafael Carmona (2-0) earned the victory, despite giving up three runs on four hits in two innings. Norm Charlton pitched the ninth for his seventh save.
“In that situation, with Mesa coming in, the game is over 96 out of 100 times,” Charlton said. “I’m sure there were 24 guys who felt that way on their bench.”
Cleveland had won 118 consecutive games when leading after eight innings since its last failure on Aug. 2, 1994.
Chicago 6, Boston 4--Chad Kreuter capped a four-run sixth inning in Boston with a two-run single in support of Wilson Alvarez (7-3), who won his fifth start in a row for the White Sox, who won for the 14th time in 16 games.
With the victory, Chicago closed within one game of Cleveland in the Central.
Baltimore 10, Detroit 7--Chris Hoiles’ homer capped a six-run first inning and Mike Mussina (8-2) struggled in his fifth victory in a row for the Orioles, who won at home.
Bobby Bonilla drove in three runs for the Orioles, who have reached double figures 11 times. Luis Polonia went four for five and Roberto Alomar had two hits and scored three runs. Alomar extended his hitting streak to 18 games and raised his batting average to .401.
Cecil Fielder had four RBIs for the Tigers, who have lost 17 of 18. Fielder, who came in three for 32 lifetime against Mussina, went three for four against him.
New York 5, Toronto 4--Mariano Duncan and Wade Boggs hit two-run homers in the second inning to help Dwight Gooden (4-4) and the Yankees win in New York.
Gooden pitched 5 2/3 innings, then gave way to a string of Yankee relievers that included Steve Howe, Mariano Rivera and John Wetteland.
Wetteland pitched a hitless ninth inning for his 13th save as the Yankees won their fourth in a row.
Milwaukee 6, Texas 2--The first five Brewers in the order scored on Kevin Gross (5-4), whose return to the Ranger rotation after 15 days on the disabled list was a defeat at Milwaukee.
Ricky Bones (4-8) gave up two runs on seven hits in 7 1/3 innings in beating Texas for the fourth consecutive time. Since 1994, he has given up only four earned runs in 29 1/3 innings against the Rangers for an ERA of 1.23.
Oakland 8, Kansas City 3--Jason Giambi went four for five in his first game back after missing three games because of tendinitis in his wrist, and he and Mark McGwire hit consecutive homers in a six-run fifth inning for the Athletics at Oakland.
Jose Herrera also homered, a three-run shot that was his first homer in the major leagues, in the fifth inning for the A’s.
Don Wengert (2-2) gave up three runs on nine hits over six innings in picking up his second win in his sixth lifetime start.