Indians beat M's with history-making rally

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Kenny Lofton could barely talk, neither could

roughly 20,000 fans who stayed until the end or the shocked Seattle


Omar Vizquel, right, celebrates with third base coach Joel Skinner after his bases-clearing triple tied it in the ninth.
Omar Vizquel, right, celebrates with third base coach Joel Skinner after his bases-clearing triple tied it in the ninth.

Stunned. Breathless. Amazing. Describing Cleveland's comeback

wasn't easy.

The Indians tied a major league record and became the first team

in 76 years to overcome a 12-run deficit to win, defeating the

Mariners 15-14 in 11 innings Sunday night.

Jolbert Cabrera's broken-bat, one-out single in the 11th, the

game's 40th hit, scored Lofton from second with the winning run to

end the 4-hour, 11-minute game that looked to be over when the

Mariners led 12-0 three hours earlier.

"I can't explain it," said Lofton. "It was unbelievable. I've

never been in a game like that in my life. My voice is gone from

hollering so much. It was fun. Wow."

Lofton slid headfirst into home plate ahead of left fielder Mark

McLemore's throw and jumped into the waiting arms of Eddie

Taubensee as the Indians poured onto the field and fans danced in

the aisles.

They refused to leave as the stadium speakers first blasted

Kiss' "Rock and Roll All Night", followed by "Cleveland Rocks."

"It's the turning point of the season," said Cabrera after the

Indians avoided another lopsided loss and crept within one-half

game of first-place Minnesota in the AL Central.

Cleveland scored two runs in the fourth, three in the seventh,

four in the eighth and five in the ninth -- after being down to

their last strike three times -- to become just the third team to

make up 12 runs in a game and win.

The historical perspective

Before Sunday, only twice had a major-league team won after trailing by

12 runs.

On June 18, 1911 in Detroit, the Tigers trailed the Chicago White Sox 13-1

after five-and-a-half innings, but came back to beat the Sox 16-15 in the

highest-scoring game of the year. Led by Ty Cobb, the Tigers were a fine

club that spent much of the season in first place and wound up second in the

American League with 831 runs (the Philadelphia Athletics won the pennant

and scored 861 runs).

On June 15, 1925 in Philadelphia, the Athletics trailed the Cleveland

Indians 15-4 after seven-and-a-half innings (they'd earlier trailed by 12

runs), but scored 13 in the bottom of the eighth and beat the Indians 17-15.

Like the 1911 Tigers, the Athletics spent much of the season in first place

but wound up second (behind the Washington Senators), and like the 1911

Tigers, the Athletics scored 831 runs (but behind two teams rather than


The moral of the story? You don't overcome a dozen-run deficit unless you're

a very good offensive club, which of course the Indians are ... and now they

have to hope that they can be the first team to make up 12 runs and

finish in first place.

-- Rob Neyer

The only others to do it were the 1911 Chicago White Sox and

1925 Philadelphia Athletics, who scored 13 runs in the eighth to

beat Cleveland 17-15.

The Mariners sat quietly in their clubhouse shaking their heads.

"We had them down with two outs in the ninth," said Seattle

manager Lou Piniella, "and they came back and tied it. It's just

one of those things that happen. It's almost impossible to do, but

they did it."

John Rocker (3-4), Cleveland's fifth pitcher, struck out the

side in the 11th as the Indians snapped a three-game losing streak.

Jim Thome hit two homers, and Russell Branyan and Marty Cordova

also homered for Cleveland.

Lofton singled with one out in the 11th off Jose Paniagua (3-3),

and Omar Vizquel singled to right.

Cabrera's bat shattered as his hit dropped into left, and

third-base coach Joel Skinner waved home Lofton.

"I had to freeze to make sure it was going to drop," Lofton

said. "And when it did, I was off to the races. After I got up off

the ground, Eddie picked me up like a little kid. Man, that was


The Indians had 23 hits, with Lofton, Vizquel and Cordova

getting four apiece.

Vizquel's three-run triple completed Cleveland's five-run ninth

and capped the comeback.

Indians manager Charlie Manuel predicted Vizquel's shot that was

barely fair.

"I told Omar if he went up there and stayed patient, `You can

triple into the right-field corner"', Manuel said.

Vizquel was skeptical.

"I didn't really buy it," he said. "I said, `Yeah, sure,

Charlie.' But it happened."

Most of the Indians starters, including Roberto Alomar, Juan

Gonzalez, Ellis Burks and Travis Fryman, had been replaced and many

fans headed home by the time the Mariners opened a 14-2 lead in the


Piniella gave Ichiro Suzuki, Edgar Martinez and John Olerud an

early rest, too.

Cleveland's rally began in the seventh when Branyan led off with

his 15th homer, a shot off starter Aaron Sele.

The Indians closed to 14-5 later in the inning on a two-run

single by Cabrera off John Halama.

The Indians scored four more in the eighth, with Thome's second

homer -- his AL-leading 36th -- getting them rolling. After Branyan

was hit by Halama, Cordova homered to bring Cleveland within six.

Piniella lifted Halama, but Norm Charlton couldn't stop the

Indians, either, and Vizquel's RBI double made it 14-9.

Still, the Indians were down by five and had a runner on with

two outs in the ninth when Cordova doubled, and Piniella turned to

Jeff Nelson.

Wil Cordero walked to load the bases, and Einar Diaz went to a

full count before hitting a two-run single to make it 14-11.

Kazuhiro Sasaki, who came in with 35 saves, gave up a single to

Lofton, loading the bases for Vizquel.

Vizquel also worked the count full before ripping his triple

just inside the bag, scoring all three.

Suzuki and Mike Cameron had three RBIs apiece as the Mariners

appeared to be sailing to their 81st win.

Cameron's two-run double highlighted Seattle's season-high,

eight-run third when the Mariners were embarrassing the Indians

before a sellout crowd on national TV.

The Mariners (80-31) had their four-game winning streak stopped,

and for one of the only times this season, things didn't go their

way. Seattle's bullpen has been nearly perfect this season.

"They kept battling back," Charlton said. "We should have put

them away and we didn't do it. We don't like losing if it's this

way or 1-0. We don't expect to lose."

Game notes
Cleveland came back from a 10-0 deficit to win in 1984. ...

Suzuki's second-inning single tied Alvin Davis' club rookie record

with 161 hits. ... Burks, who hadn't played in the Indians'

outfield since July 15, started in left. Burks made a diving catch

to rob Olerud in the second. ... Hall of Fame football coach Don

Shula threw out the ceremonial first pitch.