SEATTLE (AP) — Trevor Bauer didn’t know the last time Seattle’s Endy Chavez homered. All the Indians’ starter knew was Chavez had yet to hit one this season.
“That’s not a guy I’m expecting to do much damage,” Bauer said.
Except this time, Chavez’s solo homer in the seventh inning proved to be the winning run and handed Bauer another loss in the Mariners’ 3-2 win over Cleveland on Friday night.
Cleveland lost for the sixth time in eight games with Chavez providing the deciding blow. The Indians had chances to rally in the final three innings, but Seattle’s bullpen was stingy enough to hold on to the lead.
Chavez singled and scored in the first inning, then ended the night for Bauer with his solo shot into the right-field seats with one out in the seventh. It was Chavez’s first homer since May 30, 2013, at San Diego, a span of 265 plate appearances.
“I was just trying to be aggressive, put an aggressive swing on. I was looking for something in, then he threw the slider in, and I was able to get a good swing,” Chavez said. “I hit a line drive, and from the beginning I was running hard trying to get to second. Then I saw the ball go into the stands, and I said, ‘OK, I’ll take it.’”
It was the third straight start in which Bauer (2-4) pitched into the seventh, but he has not finished that inning this season. He threw 111 pitches, below his season high of 119, and gave up nine hits while striking out five.
Bauer struggled early, giving up an RBI singles to Kyle Seager in the first and Brad Miller in the fourth. But he found a groove and had retired eight of nine before Chavez’s 29th career home run.
“I thought early he fought his command a little bit, he didn’t work ahead very often,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “But as he got into the game I though he got much better.”
Cleveland chased Seattle starter Chris Young (7-4) after five innings despite giving up just four hits and one run. The Indians made him work deep into counts and he had thrown 91 pitches after five innings. Cleveland’s only run against Young came on Michael Brantley’s sacrifice fly in the third when the Indians had the bases loaded with one out but managed only one run.
Five Seattle relievers managed to stymie any Cleveland rally. The only success came in the ninth when Nick Swisher singled and scored on Michael Bourn’s two-out single, but Seattle closer Fernando Rodney got Asdrubal Cabrera to pop up for the final out and his 22nd save.
Before the ninth, Cleveland missed out on two other chances. With two outs in the seventh, first baseman Logan Morrison booted Bourn’s grounder with Swisher on first. Swisher never stopped at second, but Morrison recovered and threw him out at third.
“That’s an aggressive mistake I guess,” Swisher said. “… In that situation I was running on the play, and never in a million years did I think he was coming to third with that ball.”
Cleveland threatened again in the eighth on a two-out walk by Carlos Santana and a double from Jason Kipnis. Charlie Furbush got Lonnie Chisenhall to ground out, ending the inning.
“The bullpen has been outstanding. They’ve been unbelievable. You just have complete confidence in all of them,” Young said. “Tonight is a perfect example why. They came in, got 12 big outs and we won.”
NOTES: Seager is hitting .613 in his past eight home games. … Seattle’s bullpen has allowed two earned runs in the past 24 innings. … Cleveland plans to start LHP T.J. House in Sunday’s series finale. House still must be recalled from the minors. … The Indians hope RHP Justin Masterson, scratched from Sunday’s start with a sore knee, will be able to go Tuesday in Los Angeles against the Dodgers.