LaPorta has winning hit in 10th for Indians
CLEVELAND (AP) – Matt LaPorta is taking advantage of his opportunity to play every day.
LaPorta hit a game-ending single with two outs in the 10th inning, giving the Cleveland Indians a 5-4 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Saturday night.
“Obviously, it makes me feel great that I’m able to contribute to the ballclub and I’m playing well,” LaPorta said.
Cleveland’s sixth win in seven games was overshadowed by the fact outfielder Shin-Soo Choo will be placed on the disabled list Sunday with a right thumb injury. Choo was hurt trying to make a diving catch in the eighth inning Friday. He left the game the following inning and had an MRI on Saturday.
Choo is hitting .286 with 13 homers and 43 RBIs in 78 games, and was a strong candidate to make the American League All-Star team, which will be announced Sunday. He will join two other key players – second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera (broken left forearm) and outfielder Grady Sizemore (microfracture surgery on his left knee) – on the DL.
Outfielder Michael Brantley will be called up from Triple-A Columbus. He was in Columbus’ lineup Saturday night, but was removed before the game.
LaPorta was called up from Columbus on June 27 when Russell Branyan was traded to Seattle. The promotion came with the promise that LaPorta would be the Indians first baseman, his first chance to play every day in the big leagues since being acquired in the trade that sent star pitcher CC Sabathia to Milwaukee in July of 2008.
LaPorta has certainly delivered. He was 3 for 5 with two RBIs on Saturday and is batting .360 (9 for 25) with three homers and RBIs in seven games since being recalled.
LaPorta didn’t take any extra pressure to the plate despite the situation.
“I treated it just like my first at-bat or second at-bat,” he said. “You have to wait for your pitch. He threw it over the plate.”
Travis Hafner started the rally with a one-out double off Craig Breslow (3-2) and was run for by Anderson Hernandez. After Austin Kearns was intentionally walked, Jhonny Peralta flied out to deep center. LaPorta bounced a full-count fastball into center field.
“It was nice to see LaPorta come through again,” Indians manager Manny Acta said.
“He battled and put together a pretty good at bat,” Breslow said. “I tried to go pretty hard in but I left it out over the plate.”
“He threw the ball well,” Oakland manager Bob Geren said. “He gave up a chopper up the middle. If that ball was two feet either way, it is to the shortstop or second baseman.”
Oakland lost for only the second time in eight games.
Tony Sipp (1-2) pitched the 10th for Cleveland.
Jake Westbrook allowed three runs – two earned – and four hits in six innings.
Clay Mortensen started for Oakland in place of Dallas Braden, who was placed on the disabled list Saturday with elbow stiffness. Mortensen, called up from Triple-A Sacramento, pitched six innings and allowed four runs and six hits. He struck out seven, a career high.
Oakland third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff was hitless in five at-bats and is in an 0 for 29 slump, the longest of his career.
“I am going to give him tomorrow off just to give him a little physical and mental break,” Geren said.
Jayson Nix hit a two-run homer in the first, giving Cleveland the early lead. Oakland scored three in the third with the help of two errors by shortstop Jason Donald. Cliff Pennington had a two-run triple. The go-ahead run scored when Donald couldn’t field Coco Crisp’s groundball for his second error. Pennington scored and Crisp was given an RBI.
LaPorta drove in the tying run with a fourth-inning single. Peralta scored from first when the hit bounced past left fielder Gabe Gross for an error.
Oakland tied it in the seventh against Rafael Perez. Pennington doubled with one out and scored on Daric Barton’s two-out single that skipped over third base.
NOTES: Braden was placed on the DL before the game, retroactive to June 22. He’s 0-5 in eight starts since pitching a perfect game against Tampa Bay on May 9. … OF Conor Jackson was out of the lineup for the third straight game with a hamstring injury. … The members of the United States four-man bobsled team who won the gold medal at the Vancouver Olympics threw out ceremonial first pitches.