CLEVELAND -- The comeback's complete. Four months later, the Indians are again atop the AL Central.
Carlos Santana hit a home run leading off the ninth inning as Cleveland continued its stunning climb with a 6-5 victory over the fast-fading Boston Red Sox on Monday night, moving the Indians into sole possession of first place for the first time since April 19.
After the Red Sox tied it in the top of the inning off closer Brad Hand, Santana, who hit a grand slam in the 10th to beat Minnesota on Sunday, connected on a 2-2 pitch from Marcus Walden (7-2). Santana's shot barely cleared the wall in left to give the Indians their biggest victory in a season that seemingly grows more special every day.
"Right when you get punched in the stomach he takes a swing like that," Cleveland Manager Terry Francona said of Santana, who connected for his 200th home run with Cleveland. "That was a gorgeous swing. I know the last two days, but he's been doing it all year."
Santana, who has had a storybook return to Cleveland after playing in Philadelphia last season, circled the bases and was mobbed at home by his overjoyed teammates, who trailed the idle Minnesota Twins by 11 ½ games but have gone an MLB-best 43-17 since June 4.
"Nobody threw in the towel," said Hand, who blew his second save in two days but got bailed out again by Santana. "Nobody gave up and we all battled together."
Jose Ramirez hit a three-run home run and Franmil Reyes had a two-run shot as the Indians moved 25 games over .500 with their sixth walk-off win.
It's been an uphill battle for months, but the Indians are finally in front -- and hope to stay there.
"Playing these type of high-energy atmosphere games, it's amazing," said Indians rookie starter Zach Plesac. "I feel the chemistry we have is special. Everyone feels it. It's been so much fun, this whole ride, this whole year coming back and battling up to first place. We have something great going."
Down 5-1 after three innings, the Red Sox chipped away and finally tied it in the ninth on a two-out double by Xander Bogaerts off Hand (6-3). The left-hander gave up a one-out walk and struck out Rafael Devers before Bogaerts doubled off the right-field wall.
"It was joyful for a quick five minutes," Bogaerts said. "It's rough."
An All-Star, Hand has not had his usual command in his last few outings.
"I just can't make the big pitch to get out of it," Hand said. "I had a chance yesterday to get out of some stuff -- two outs, runner on first today, but I just can't make that pitch to get the job done right now."
J.D. Martinez and Jackie Bradley Jr. hit home runs, but Boston lost for the 12th time in 15 games.
The defending World Series champions are quickly vanishing from the playoff picture as well. They came in trailing the New York Yankees by 16 games in the AL East and 7 ½ back in the wild-card race.
"It's not easy. You fight, fight, fight and in one swing, it's over," Red Sox Manager Joey Cora said
BLUE JAYS 19, RANGERS 4 Brandon Drury hit his first career grand slam, Justin Smoak had a two-run home run among his three extra-base hits, and host Toronto routed Texas. Bo Bichette had the first four-hit game of his career and Randal Grichuk had three hits, including a solo home run, as the Blue Jays won for the 10th time in 15 games. Drury had five RBI, while Smoak and Grichuk each had four. Toronto scored eight runs in the fourth, its biggest inning since an eight-run outburst against Seattle on Sept. 20, 2016. Nomar Mazara, Willie Calhoun and Rougned Odor hit solo home runs but Texas lost for the fifth time in six games. Ariel Jurado (6-8) allowed career-highs of 8 runs and 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings for the Rangers. Brock Stewart (2-0) pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing 3 runs and 5 hits for Toronto.
YANKEES 8-11, ORIOLES 5-8 Gleyber Torres hit three more home runs, including a pair of three-run drives in the night game that gave him 13 of New York's record 59 home runs against visiting Baltimore this season, and the Yankees completed a doubleheader sweep. The Yankees' winning streak against the Orioles is 14 games. Gio Urshela had six hits in the twinbill, including a 461-foot home run in the opener. Torres set a big league record with his fifth multihomer game against a team in a season, breaking a tie with Ralph Kiner (1947), Gus Zernial (1951) and Roy Sievers (1955). His 26 home runs are two more than his total as a rookie last year, and the 13 against Baltimore matched Roger Maris in 1961 against Cleveland for the second-most against one team in a season by a Yankees player, one behind Lou Gehrig's total in 1936 versus Cleveland. James Paxton (8-6) started the opener and won a third consecutive start. In the second game, left-hander Joe Mantiply (1-0) got his first big league victory in his Yankees debut.
NATIONALS 7, REDS 6 Trea Turner and Matt Adams hit home runs, Erick Fedde pitched well after allowing a solo shot on the game's first pitch and depleted Washington held on to edge visiting Cincinnati. Washington led 7-2 but blew most of that advantage before Sean Doolittle got his 27th save in 32 chances. He entered in the ninth with a 7-4 lead, but the struggling lefty closer's first pitch of the evening became Phillip Ervin's pinch-hit home run. The next batter singled, and came around on Joey Votto's two-out double off the wall in left. Doolittle finally ended things on Josh VanMeter's foul pop to third baseman Anthony Rendon. Washington trailed quickly as Jesse Winker drove a sinker from Fedde to left for his 16th home run -- and third leading off a game this season. Fedde (3-2) settled down and ended up going six innings, giving up two runs and six hits. Anthony DeSclafani (7-7) took the loss.
Sports on 08/13/2019
Print Headline: Santana's HR lifts Cleveland