JACOBS FIELD Indians' rally not enough this time
The 8-6 loss was unlike Sunday's 15-14 comeback win over Seattle.
By TOM WILLIAMS
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
CLEVELAND -- The euphoria the Indians generated from Sunday's big-league record comeback melted in the heat generated by baseball's hottest team.
The Seattle Mariners rebounded from a 15-14 extra-innings loss to the Indians by pummeling Tribe starter Charles Nagy for eight runs in four-plus innings en route to an 8-6 triumph Monday at Jacobs Field.
"We got behind again and kind of played sloppy," said Indians manager Charlie Manuel of his team's four errors in the first three frames and an early 6-2 deficit. "Charlie made some mistakes and we couldn't really put nobody away."
Thome drills one: Jim Thome's league-leading 37th-homer of the year in the fourth inning, a two-run shot that brought in his 97th RBI, kept the Tribe close.
But two more Seattle runs in the top of the fifth inning proved to be too much for the Indians to overcome.
Not that they didn't have several chances against Seattle starter Paul Abbott and relievers Norm Charlton and Jose Paniagua. The Indians stranded seven base-runners in their final four at-bats while scoring twice.
Omar Vizquel's two-out double in the seventh inning brought home Russell Branyan and Kenny Lofton to close out the scoring.
But Abbott (12-2) helped maintain his career undefeated streak against the Tribe by striking out Juan Gonzalez on his 124th pitch of the night.
Comeback: Bret Boone, the Mariners' second baseman, said the game's key was "more us coming back after what happened [Sunday] night ... not missing a beat and taking it to them again.
"Abbott kept us in the game and gave us a chance," said Boone, whose first-inning single put Seattle ahead 1-0 after Ichiro Suzuki's double.
"And Pani, who has been scuffling a little bit, came in and did a great job against one of the great run producers in the game."
Boone was referring to the ninth inning when the Tribe had the tying run at first base after pinch-hitter Wil Cordero and Vizquel singled.
Clutch pitching: After Charlton struck out Roberto Alomar for the second out, Paniagua retired Gonzalez, the league's second-best hitter, with a fly-out to end the game.
"They rallied again," said Boone of the Indians. "They've been pretty relentless with us. It was a great win for us. To come in and win three out of four at this place, it says what kind of team we've got."
The victory puts the Mariners (81-31) back at an amazing 50 games above .500 and keeps them 19 games in front of the Oakland Athletics in the American League West.
The loss drops the Tribe to a full-game behind the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central Division and was the Indians' third in four games against baseball's best team and their seventh in their past nine games.
Abbott (12-2) said he felt no extra pressure after his team's collapse.
Came to play: "Whether they won or lost that game, [the Indians] are such a dangerous team," Abbott said. "It was a tremendous win for them, but we come to play every day. We don't have letdowns often. We haven't lost more than two in a row all year."
Nagy (4-5) was in trouble from the start. With the Mariners ahead 1-0 and Boone at first base, Thome was charged with a double error on a ground-ball off the bat of John Olerud.
Thome bobbled the ball, then tossed it wildly to Nagy covering, setting up Mike Cameron's RBI single.
"If you give a team a few extra outs, especially a team like [Seattle], they will capitalize on it," Nagy said. "I just didn't make many good pitches.
"I wasn't putting the ball in the strike zone whether I was ahead or I was behind, and they hit them."
Lead cut: Lofton's lead-off double was followed by Vizquel's sacrifice bunt and Alomar's RBI groundout to cut the lead to 2-1.
But third baseman Travis Fryman's throwing error put Dan Wilson on base in the second inning, and the Mariners' catcher scored on Ichiro's double to left field.
The Indians didn't wilt as Marty Cordova's line-drive homer to right field reduced the Mariners lead to 3-2. But doubles by Cameron and David Bell off Nagy and another error gave the Mariners two more runs.
Ball lost: Left fielder Branyan returned a Wilson base hit to the plate, but base-runner Bell knocked the ball from Diaz's glove to score. Diaz was charged with an error.
"It looked like Bell got a clean hit on his glove and jarred the ball loose," Manuel said.
Nagy said, "That's what happens when you are 50 games over .500. You play as if you don't have a care in the world. They are a good ballclub playing free and easy right now."
Boone's 26th homer, a fourth-inning solo shot, put Seattle ahead 6-2.
Carlos Guillen's lead-off single and a walk to Bell on his 99th pitch ended Nagy's night in the fifth inning.
With the bases loaded against reliever David Riske, Ichiro's third hit of the game scored Seattle's seventh run. Stan Javier's ground-out brought home another.