CLEVELAND (AP) ― When the bullpen door swung open, Chris Perez braced himself.
After criticizing Cleveland’s fans for failing to support the first-place Indians, Perez wasn’t sure what to expect when he came in for the ninth inning with another game on the line.
As he entered the field, there was only one sound.
The roar carried him.
“That’s the loudest I’ve ever been cheered here,” Perez said after earning his 14th save in Cleveland’s 5-3 win over the Detroit Tigers. “It didn’t go unnoticed, trust me. I’m humbled. That was really nice.”
Greeted by a standing ovation from the time he exited the bullpen, Perez worked another scary ninth inning as the Indians ended a 10-game losing streak to Detroit.
On Saturday, Perez ripped Cleveland’s fans for booing him during a recent appearance and called the Indians’ major league-worst attendance “an embarrassment” for a team that contended most of last season and is off to another strong start.
In the ninth, Perez put two runners on before he had to face Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, the Tigers’ most ferocious hitters.
He got them both.
“I like to face those guys,” he said.
After striking out Cabrera looking and getting Fielder on a grounder to short, fireworks exploded above Progressive Field as Perez shook hands with his teammates and enjoyed a save that began with his emotional trip to the mound.
“I was pumped, the adrenaline was going. It could have gone the other way,” said Perez, who hasn’t blown a save since opening day. “I came through. I didn’t know which way it was going to go. I was thankful it went the good way.”
Ubaldo Jimenez (5-3) cautiously worked through the meat of Detroit’s lineup and lasted six innings as the Indians beat the AL Central favorites and Rick Porcello (4-3).
Travis Hafner had two RBIs for Cleveland, which hadn’t beaten the Tigers since Aug. 10 last season.
With Cleveland leading 5-3, Perez raced in from the bullpen as Prodigy’s “Firestarter” boomed from the ballpark’s loudspeakers. There wasn’t a single boo to be heard as the right-hander kicked the dirt around the rubber.
After getting one out, he walked Ramon Santiago and when Andy Dirks followed with a single, the 15,049 fans ― many of them Detroit backers ― grew restless. But Perez got Cabrera to look at a third strike and punctuated the punch out with a fist pump.
Yankees sneak past Royals
NEW YORK (AP) ― Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees are still looking to bust out with that big hit. The mood in the clubhouse was much better, though, following a much-needed win.
Robinson Cano homered, Phil Hughes beat Kansas City for the second time this month and New York eked out a 3-2 victory over the Royals on Tuesday night.
Derek Jeter delivered a bases-loaded single that tied the score and New York rallied from an early two-run deficit to snap a three-game skid. Shut out Monday in the series opener, the Yankees (22-21) went 2 for 7 with runners in scoring position ― one night after they finished 0 for 13 in those situations for their worst performance with RISP since 1990.
“It wasn’t that pretty, but that was a good win,” said Rodriguez, who struck out with the bases loaded but combined with Mark Teixeira on a game-saving defensive play. “It felt really good to win a game like this. Sometimes you need a game like this to kind of get you on a roll. Hopefully it’s a good sign of things to come. We haven’t been winning these kinds of games.”
New York, which had lost six of seven to drop into a last-place tie with Boston in the AL East, now has eight hits in its last 79 at-bats (.101) with runners in scoring position.
Hughes (4-5) gave up five hits in six innings while striking out seven, beating Royals right-hander Luke Hochevar (3-5) for the second time in 17 days.
“It seemed like nothing was a walk in the park tonight,” Hughes said.
Baltimore 4, Boston 1
Washington 5, Philadelphia 2
NY Mets 3, Pittsburgh 2
Cincinnati 4, Atlanta 3
Miami 7, Colorado 6
Tampa Bay 8, Toronto 5
Houston 2, Chicago Cubs 1
Minnesota 9, Chicago White Sox 2
San Francisco 6, Milwaukee 4
St. Louis 4, San Diego 0
Texas 3, Seattle 1
LA Dodgers 8, Arizona 7
LA Angels 5, Oakland 0