The Cleveland Indians ' recent offensive struggles have a playoff spot looking less and less likely.
Those struggles could become even more magnified after a potential huge blow to the pitching staff.
Cleveland will look to break out of its slump Tuesday night and gain ground against the visiting Baltimore Orioles .
Ace Justin Masterson was pulled in the second inning of a 7-2 loss to the Orioles on Monday due to soreness in his left side. The sinkerballer is scheduled to undergo an MRI and other tests Tuesday to determine the extent of the injury, which could potentially end Masterson's season and Cleveland's slim playoff hopes.
The Indians (72-65) trail the Orioles (73-63) by 1 1/2 games in the AL wild-card chase.
"He's our best pitcher," manager Terry Francona said. "But when things don't go your way, you can either feel sorry for yourselves or you can find a way to shine. I hope that we are able to come back, whether it takes everybody in the bullpen or guys on the bench, keep fighting."
Cleveland has plated 16 runs while batting .222 in losing six of seven. Francona's club has been solid this year with runners in scoring position, batting .257, but is 5 for 43 (.116) in the last seven.
Scheduled starter Ubaldo Jimenez (9-9, 3.95 ERA) is all too familiar with his club's offensive struggles. He went 1-4 in August despite a 3.10 ERA while receiving a total of seven runs of support.
The right-hander went seven innings in Thursday's 3-1 loss at Atlanta, and all three of the runs against him came on a homer by Brian McCann . It was the first home run he surrendered in six outings.
"Right now we're in the situation where if you make a mistake you're probably going to pay for it with the game," said Jimenez, who has recorded 28 strikeouts in 18 2-3 innings over his last three games. "We're not scoring a lot of runs. That's part of baseball. Sometimes you're going to get in a stretch like that."
The Orioles have won two in a run but are still 8-11 since Aug. 12.
Trying to help improve that mark Tuesday will be Chris Tillman (15-4, 3.61), who became the team's first 15-game winner since Erik Bedard in 2006 after limiting Boston to two runs over seven innings in a 3-2 road victory Thursday. No Baltimore pitcher has had more wins since Mike Mussina had 18 in 1999.
"It's a starting pitcher's goal for the guys to trust you every time we go out there," Tillman said.
The right-hander is 2-1 with a 4.79 ERA over four career starts versus Cleveland. He won the last two, including a 6-3 home victory on June 25.
J.J. Hardy is one homer away from becoming the fourth active shortstop and ninth since 1901 to hit 25 or more in three separate seasons. He's 3 for 8 with a homer against Jimenez.
Jimenez gave up two runs - both on homers to Wieters and Nick Markakis - in a 5-2 win at Baltimore on June 24, his only career appearance versus the Orioles.
|September 01, 2013||Eric Beaulac||60-Day DL||Torn labrum, right hip|
|August 28, 2013||Steve Pearce||15-Day DL||Left wrist inflammation|
|August 16, 2013||Francisco Rodriguez||Day-to-Day||Strained right groin|
|July 29, 2013||Jason Hammel||15-Day DL||Right forearm tenderness|
|July 14, 2013||Nolan Reimold||60-Day DL||Nerve inflammation in cervical spine|
|June 21, 2013||Michael Morse||15-Day DL||Strained right quad|
|August 30, 2013||Scott Barnes||60-Day DL||Sprained left wrist|
|August 28, 2013||Cord Phelps||60-Day DL||Right wrist inflammation|
|August 19, 2013||Ryan Raburn||15-Day DL||Strained left Achilles|
|August 19, 2013||Ryan Raburn||15-Day DL||Strained left Achilles|
|August 06, 2013||Corey Kluber||15-Day DL||Sprained finger, right hand|
|July 20, 2013||Corey Kluber||Day-to-Day||Left hip tightness|
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Nothing comes easy for the Cleveland Indians these days.
The Indians cruised into the ninth inning with what seemed a comfortable lead Tuesday night, but had to hang on for a 4-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles .
Ubaldo Jimenez pitched six shutout innings while Yan Gomes and Asdrubal Cabrera drove in two runs apiece, before Chris Perez finally slammed the door in the ninth after allowing the Orioles to get back in the game.
Perez, pitching in a non-save situation, got into immediate trouble. Singles by Nick Markakis and J.J. Hardy started the inning before Nate McLouth 's three-run homer on a 3-2 pitch cut the lead to one.
The crowd of 9,962 - and just about everyone else in Progressive Field - got a little nervous, including Jimenez.
"I was a little worried," Jimenez said with a laugh. "It was getting kind of close, but Chris got back to his old ways after they scored those three runs."
Perez struck out Brian Roberts and Manny Machado before facing Chris Davis , who leads the majors with 47 home runs. Davis hit a ground ball to second baseman Jason Kipnis , who was playing in shallow right field, for the final out of the game.
Perez pleaded no contest and was convicted of misdemeanor drug abuse Tuesday for marijuana shipped to his home in the family dog's name, an incident that took place in June. Despite the fact Perez appeared in court earlier in the day, Indians manager Terry Francona didn't hesitate to use his closer.
"I actually thought he threw the ball pretty well," Francona said. "He got the ball up to McLouth, but for the most part I thought he threw the ball pretty good."
Jimenez (10-9) has allowed three earned runs or less in eight consecutive starts. The right-hander held Baltimore to four hits and worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth.
"He goes out there and gives us six shutout innings against that lineup," Francona said. "That's exciting."
Gomes' two-run double was the key hit in Cleveland's sixth. Cabrera had sacrifices flies in the fourth and sixth.
Orioles starter Chris Tillman (15-5) allowed four runs in 5 1-3 innings. The right-hander has one win in his last six starts.
Both teams are battling for the second wild card spot in the American League. Baltimore entered Tuesday's play two games behind while Cleveland was 3 1/2 games off the pace.
The Indians, who had lost six of seven, needed some good news. Justin Masterson , the team's No. 1 starter, will miss at least one start because of a strained left oblique. The right-hander could be out the rest of the season.
"We did a lot of good things tonight," Francona said. "We played a nice crisp game. That's how we have to play."
The Indians are 14th in the AL in attendance despite the fact they're contending for a playoff spot. Monday's game drew a crowd of 15,020.
"Of course we notice," Jimenez said of the team's attendance. "It's definitely not the same when we have a big crowd, but what can we do? We have to go out there and compete."
The Orioles loaded the bases in the sixth on a single and two walks, but Jimenez retired Michael Morse on a tapper to the mound to end the inning.
Jimenez went 1-4 in August despite a 3.10 ERA while receiving a total of seven runs of support. He had dropped four of his last five starts. Jimenez, who struck out four, has recorded 32 strikeouts in 24 2-3 innings over his last four games.
"Jimenez was as good as anyone in baseball three or four years ago, and it looks like he's got his velocity back," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He was really crisp with his changeup and his fastball was working for him all night."
Cabrera's sacrifice fly gave Cleveland the lead in the fourth after Kipnis and Carlos Santana walked to start the inning.
Santana led off the sixth by drawing another walk and took third on Michael Brantley 's double into the left field corner. Cabrera's second sacrifice fly scored Santana and Gomes' double later scored Brantley and pinch-runner Matt Carson .
The Orioles, who are 3-5 on a nine-game trip that ends Wednesday, are 8-12 since Aug. 12.
NOTES: LHP Zach Britton , called up from Triple-A Norfolk on Monday, will start for the Orioles in Wednesday's series finale. The other five starters will be moved back one day. ... A college reunion took place before the game when Indians OF Drew Stubbs caught the ceremonial first pitch from Browns RB Chris Ogbonnaya. The two were roommates at the University of Texas. ... Indians OF Ryan Raburn (left Achilles soreness) was activated from the 15-day DL. ... The Indians recalled RHPs Carlos Carrasco , Chen-Chang Lee, Vinnie Pestano , and Josh Tomlin from Triple-A Columbus. Tomlin underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in August 2012. ... The Orioles recalled 2B Jonathan Schoop , OF Henry Urrutia and RHP Josh Stinson from Norfolk, and 2B Ryan Flaherty from Single-A Frederick.