CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- Perhaps the greatest comeback in baseball history came against the record-setting Seattle Mariners.
The Cleveland Indians rallied from 12 runs down in the seventh inning -- taking their only lead of the game on Jolbert Cabrera's game-winning single in the bottom of the 11th -- and stunned the Mariners, 15-14.
As improbable as Seattle's 80-31 season has been, what occured during Sunday's nationally televised matchup was even more unlikely. Trailing 12-0 after two innings and 14-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh, the Indians matched the largest deficit ever overcome to win a baseball game.
Only twice in major league history has a team climbed out of a 12-run hole to win a game. The 1911 Detroit Tigers accomplished the feat against the Chicago White Sox on June 18, 1911 and the Philadelphia Athletics matched the accomplishment against the Indians on June 15, 1925.
But this comeback came against one of the best bullpens in the game and a team that is off to one of the best starts in history. Making the rally even more improbable was the fact that Cleveland had pulled starters Roberto Alomar, Juan Gonzalez and Ellis Burks by the seventh inning.
"You never know about baseball, that's for sure," Seattle manager Lou Piniella said. "Give them credit, they scored a bunch of runs late. We had them down with two outs in the ninth and they score five runs to tie it. It is just one of those things."
On three occasions in the ninth, Cleveland was down to its final strike but the Indians were able to rally against a team that had lost when leading after six innings just three times in 66 previous games.
"What a big win," Indians first baseman Jim Thome said. "This was great, this shows this team isn't going to lay down. This was really exciting, especially with the way we have been playing lately."
Jose Paniagua (3-3) started the decisive bottom of the 11th inning for Seattle and retired Einar Diaz on a popout. Kenny Lofton, who went from goat to hero in a four-hour span, singled up the middle and took second on a base hit by Vizquel. Cabrera, who replaced Alomar in the top of the sixth, dunked a broken-bat single into left field and Lofton slid in just ahead of Mark McLemore's throw.
Cabrera was 2-for-5 with three RBI.
"I hit it well enough to get it through," Cabrera said. "I got lucky, it broke my bat. I wanted to be aggressive and try to hit it hard."
John Rocker (3-4), who struck out the side in the top of the 11th, capped six stellar innings by the Indians' bullpen.
After Dave Burba was torched for seven runs in two-plus innings, Mike Bacsik came on "to take one for the team." He allowed five more runs in the second and two more in the fourth but held Seattle in check from the fifth through the eighth.
As both teams began pulling their starters, the Indians could do nothing against Seattle starter Aaron Sele and appeared headed for their fourth straight loss. Instead they posted a victory that drew them within one-half game of the Minnesota Twins in the American League Central.
"It doesn't get much better than that," Indians manager Charlie Manuel said. "It was embarrassing for a while. I looked up and we were down by 12. We started chipping and kept battling and posted our biggest win of the year. If this doesn't pick us up, nothing will."
Sele held a 14-2 edge in the seventh but surrendered a solo homer to Russell Branyan before leaving with the bases loaded and two outs. John Halama came on for Seattle and allowed a two-run single to Cabrera.
Halama gave up a homer to Thome, his second of the game, and a two-run blast to Marty Cordova -- his 13th of the season. Norm Charlton allowed a run-scoring double to Vizquel later in the same inning that got the Indians within 14-9.
Lofton took third on Vizquel's double but appeared to kill all of Cleveland's momentum by getting thrown out at the plate trying to score on a ball that rolled away from catcher Tom Lampkin.
Charlton remained in the game in the ninth and allowed a leadoff single to Eddie Taubensee. Thome flied out and Branyan struck out before Cordova doubled. Jeff Nelson took over and walked Wil Cordero on a 3-2 pitch.
Diaz singled to left on a 3-2 pitch, drawing Cleveland within 14-11. Sasaki entered the game and allowed a single to Lofton tha loaded the bases and then got ahead of Vizquel 1-2. But the Indians' shortstop was able to triple down the right-field line, clearing the bases and tying the game.
"Sasaki is so tough," Vizquel said. "I was just trying to make contact. I was looking for something low and got it."
After the Indians stranded a runner in scoring position in the 10th, Rocker buzzed through the Mariners in the top of the 11th.
The Indians previous record for largest deficit overcome was 10 runs, accomplished against the Minnesota Twins on September 28, 1984.
Seattle built its huge lead behind Japanese rookie sensation Ichiro Suzuki and Mike Cameron, who had three RBI apiece. Cameron and Al Martin had three hits apiece while McLemore, Edgar Martinez and John Olerud had two hits each.