CLEVELAND (AP) – Mike Aviles has built a reputation as a solid player off the bench. He’s not doing a bad job being in the lineup every day either.
Aviles hit a three-run homer in the second inning and added the go-ahead single in the eighth to help the Cleveland Indians beat the Colorado Rockies 7-6 on Saturday.
Thanks to several injuries around the infield, Aviles has been seeing more action the last several weeks. And that’s just fine with manager Terry Francona.
“He knows he’s going to play more than the average guy who doesn’t start, so he stays in shape and stays ready,” Francona said. “He knows how to play the game. You almost go looking for ways to get him into the game.”
Cleveland’s bullpen couldn’t hold a 6-2 lead in the seventh, but Aviles saved the day when he lined a single to right with one out that scored Jason Kipnis, who drew a leadoff walk as a pinch-hitter.
“I figured he wasn’t going to give me anything on the plate, so I tried to be patient, which really isn’t my style, but I got one to hit and was lucky enough that it fell in,” Aviles said.
Kipnis wasn’t in the starting lineup after playing two games since missing a month with an oblique injury. He batted for Jesus Aguilar, forcing Rockies manager Walt Weiss to call on left-hander Rex Brothers (2-3). Kipnis walked and took second on Lonnie Chisenhall‘s sacrifice. Aviles lined a hit to right field and Kipnis slid home ahead of Charlie Blackmon‘s throw.
Chisenhall had a two-run homer in the sixth.
The Indians handed their bullpen a 6-2 lead through six innings, but Corey Dickerson‘s solo homer and Blackmon’s three-run shot tied it in the seventh.
“It hasn’t been easy, but all the guys all through the lineup fought well, especially the top and bottom of the order,” Weiss said. “Things just aren’t going our way right now.”
Trevor Bauer allowed two runs and matched a career high with eight strikeouts in six innings, but Cleveland’s bullpen imploded. Scott Athchison retired the first hitter before Dickerson homered. Following singles by Wilin Rosario and DJ LeMahieu, Josh Outman relieved, but Blackmon homered on the left-hander’s first and only pitch to tie the game.
Aviles’ three-run homer in the second and a two-run blast by Chisenhall helped Cleveland build its lead.
“On a normal day that was out for sure, but with the wind swirling like that, you never know,” Aviles said. “The wind was changing directions all day.”
Bauer, making his fourth start of the season, allowed two runs in the third but struck out Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki with runners on second and third to end the inning. The right-hander retired 11 of the final 12 hitters he faced.
Bauer, who had been battling the flu bug for a couple of days, retired the first seven hitters before running into problems in the third. Rosario drew a one-out walk and LeMahieu doubled to right. Rosario stopped at third, but scored when David Murphy‘s throw to second hit LeMahieu and rolled into left field, allowing Rosario to score on the error.
LeMahieu went to third and scored on Blackmon’s single. Michael Cuddyer singled and a double steal put runners at second and third, but Bauer struck out Gonzalez and Tulowitzki. Gonzalez struck out in all four at-bats.
Aviles’ homer capped a four-run second. Morales held the Indians scoreless until the sixth. Aguilar walked with one out before Chisenhall homered to right to right on a 2-2 pitch.
NOTES: Cuddyer made his first start at third base since 2010. He appeared in 171 games at third base over six years with Minnesota. … Outman, who pitched for Colorado the last two seasons, was acquired in a trade for OFDrew Stubbs. Stubbs batted sixth and played center field Saturday. … Indians 1B Nick Swisher (sore left knee) is doing rehab work in a pool. …. Indians RHP Josh Tomlin (3-2) takes on Rockies RHP Jhoulys Chacin (0-4) in the three-game series finale Sunday.
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