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Never say die

Indians overcome 12-run deficit to stun Mariners

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Posted: Monday August 06, 2001 12:39 AM
Updated: Monday August 06, 2001 8:12 AM
  Kenny Lofton Kenny Lofton pops up to greet his teammates after scoring the winning run in the 11th inning. AP

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Kenny Lofton could barely talk, neither could roughly 20,000 fans who stayed until the end or the shocked Seattle Mariners.

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.

Rally Caps

Baseball's 12-run comebacks:

June 18, 1911
The Detroit Tigers were losing to the Chicago White Sox 13-1 after five innings but won 16-15.

June 15, 1925
The Cleveland Indians blew a 15-3 seventh-inning lead, losing 17-15 to the Philadelphia Athletics, who scored 13 times in the eighth.

Aug. 5, 2001
Down 14-2 in the seventh inning, the Cleveland Indians scored 13 unanswered runs to beat the Seattle Mariners 15-14 in 11 innings.

Note: Five teams have come back from 11-run deficits. 

"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 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 fun."

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 fifth.

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."

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 head football coach Don Shula threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Related information
Mariners move 50 games over .500
SI's Stephen Cannella: Touching Base
Puckett, Winfield move into Cooperstown's Mike Berardino: Inside Baseball
Mariners-Indians Box Score
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