The Indians can't use interleague play or the road as an excuse any longer. No, Cleveland is officially in a slump and losing like it hasn't all season.
Carlos Delgado hit a go-ahead home run off Mike Jackson in the ninth inning and the Toronto Blue Jays survived a bases-loaded scare in the bottom half to beat the Cleveland Indians 4-3 Wednesday night.
The struggling Indians wasted a 13-strikeout performance from Dave Burba, then missed an opportunity to at least tie it when Manny Ramirez grounded into a game-ending double play on the first pitch from Billy Koch with the bases loaded.
"They had their top RBI man up with the bases juiced," Koch said. "That's the situation he wants. He sees a power pitcher and he was geared up for the fastball. He got the slider."
That's the way it has been going for the Indians lately.
Cleveland is just 2-5 since the All-Star break and 12-15 in its last 27. After averaging nearly seven runs per game for most of the season, the Indians have scored just 27 in their last seven games, including a 10-run game they lost last weekend at Pittsburgh.
"We're just struggling with the bats right now," Indians manager Mike Hargrove said. "We're not scoring like we're capable of and that's something that will eventually change."
Delgado broke a 3-all tie when he drove a 2-0 pitch from Jackson (3-3) the opposite way to left for his eighth homer in 17 games this month and 25th of the season.
"That's the best hitter's count you can get," Delgado said. "I was looking on the outer half of the plate. It was there and I went out and got it."P>John Frascatore (5-0), Toronto's third pitcher, threw one scoreless inning, and Koch got his 16th save.
Willie Greene hit a two-run homer and Shawn Green added a solo shot for the Blue Jays, who their fifth straight and AL-high 13th game this month. Since dropping nine games under .500 on June 12, the Blue Jays have gone 25-9.
"This was an exciting win for us," starter Pat Hentgen said. "We're one game out (in the wild card) and it's July 21. Right now, we're doing it all."
Burba had perhaps his best outing of the season, allowing just five hits in eight innings. His 13 strikeouts were the most by an Indians pitcher at Jacobs Field, which opened in 1994.
"I didn't realize I had 13, but I'll take every one of them," said Burba. "I thought I had 10 or 11, but when someone told me 13, that surprised me."
|Shawn Green watches his first-inning homer Wednesday.(AP)|
Burba, winless since June 19, got burned by two home runs.
"I was pleased with the performance after the two home runs," Burba said. "I gave us a chance to come back. Fortunately, we did. But we didn't come all the way back. I guess I'm just a hard-luck pitcher."
It looked like Burba might benefit from another Indians' comeback when Roberto Alomar led off the eighth with a homer off Graeme Lloyd. But after putting runners at first and second, Frascatore (5-0) got Enrique Wilson to bounce into an inning-ending forceout.
Hentgen allowed two runs and five singles in six innings.
The Blue Jays have been using the long ball to climb their way back into contention, hitting a league-high 29 homers in July.
After Shannon Stewart reached on a fielder's choice in the third by beating out a potential double-play grounder, Greene homered for a 3-1 lead.
Green put Toronto up 1-0 in the first with his 28th homer, a two-out shot. He has hit safey in a career-high 19 games.
The Indians tied it in the second when shortstop Tony Batista was charged with a throwing error attempting to turn a double play.
Kenny Lofton's sacrifice fly in the second gave Cleveland a 2-1 lead.
- With Jaret Wright due to miss his next scheduled start because of a back problem, Indians manager Mike Hargrove is leaning toward starting Dwight Gooden on Friday against the Yankees and David Cone. Gooden has never faced the Yankees, whom he made 29 starts for in 1996-97.
- Cleveland's Wil Cordero returned from Puerto Rico and had the cast removed from his left wrist Wednesday. Cordero fractured it making a sliding catch against Milwaukee on June 8. He'll begin rehab on Thursday, but said he doesn't know when he'll be able to start swinging a bat.
- The trading deadline is just 10 days away, and Blue Jays general manager Gord Ash said he expects trade talks to heat up following the weekend. "Everybody plays the clock," he said. "It's human nature to wait until the deadline."
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