CLEVELAND -- Aaron Boone rounded third, looked up and saw a welcoming party near the plate. This wasn't October or Yankee Stadium or legendary, but for the struggling Boone, the moment was special.
Stuck in a season-long slump, Boone homered leading off the 11th inning and the Indians rallied for a 7-6 victory over the lowly Colorado Rockies to extend their winning streak to a season-high five games.
Boone fell behind 1-2 against Blaine Neal (1-2) before pulling his seventh homer over the wall in left. The shot wasn't nearly as magical as Boone's series-winning homer in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS for the New York Yankees, but it finally made him feel welcome in Cleveland, where he has been booed most of the season.
Boone, who entered the game hitting just .184, was mobbed by his bouncing teammates when he finally touched the plate.
"That's the kind of beating you enjoy," he said. "You don't mind it. It means you've done something good."
There hasn't been much for Boone, who missed all of last season after undergoing knee surgery, to feel good about.
"I certainly feel better about where I am now than I did a few weeks ago," said Boone, batting .371 in his last 10 games. "I've been feeling good at the plate and I feel I've been swinging the bat a lot better."
The surging Indians have won eight of nine and improved to 16-7 since May 20.
"It feels good, especially to do it when we're staring to play much better as a team," Boone said. "I feel like we're catching our stride. I am, too."
Bob Howry (4-1) pitched one inning for the win and Cleveland's relievers combined for 7 2/3 shutout innings with 13 strikeouts.
"One pitch got away, that's the hardest part," Fuentes said. "I was ahead in the count but he put a good swing on it."
The Rockies dropped to 4-25 on the road this season.
With the Indians down 6-5, Peralta was behind 0-2 against Fuentes and fouled off two more pitches before driving his seventh homer -- and first since May 17 -- the opposite way over the wall in right-center to tie it at 6.
Colorado starter Joe Kennedy, whose days pitching with the Rockies could be numbered, was in line to get the win before Peralta's clutch homer.
Pitching for the first time since June 6, Kennedy got some unexpected early support from the Rockies, who roughed up C.C. Sabathia. Kennedy has been mentioned in recent trade talks with several teams, including the Dodgers and Oakland Athletics, who are both in the market for a starting pitcher.
The left-hander didn't dazzle any scouts on hand, allowing five runs and seven hits in five innings.
The Rockies tagged Sabathia for six runs -- five in the third inning -- and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings. It was the left-hander's shortest outing in 26 starts dating to July 5.
Sabathia needed just 23 total pitches to get through the first two innings before he seemed to lose his focus while laboring through 36 pitches in the third, when Colorado scored five times on six hits.
Casey Blake gave the Indians a 2-0 lead in the second with his eighth homer.
|Aaron Boone's seventh home run of the season lifts Cleveland over Colorado. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Eddy Garabito, 2B||4||1||2||0||0||1||0||.385|
|Bradley Hawpe, RF||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.276|
|Garrett Atkins, 3B||6||1||3||2||0||0||1||.307|
|Todd Helton, 1B||3||1||0||0||2||1||2||.256|
|Preston Wilson, CF||5||0||1||1||0||4||4||.274|
|Dustan Mohr, LF||4||0||0||0||0||2||6||.207|
|a- Cory Sullivan, PH-LF||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.306|
|Ryan Shealy, DH||5||0||2||2||0||2||0||.250|
|Luis Gonzalez, RF-2B||5||0||0||0||0||1||3||.256|
|Desi Relaford, SS||5||2||2||0||0||0||1||.290|
|Danny Ardoin, C||4||1||1||1||1||3||0||.313|
|a-popped out for Mohr in the 10th|
|2B - Eddy Garabito (2, Betancourt), Ryan Shealy (1, Sabathia), Desi Relaford 2 (10, Sabathia, Sabathia)|
|SH - Eddy Garabito (1)|
|RBI - Garrett Atkins 2 (23), Preston Wilson (36), Ryan Shealy 2 (2), Danny Ardoin (2)|
|2-OUT RBI - Ryan Shealy 2 (2)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|DP - Helton|
|David Cortes (H,1)||1||0||0||0||1||1||0||3.29|
|Jay Witasick (H,6)||2||1||0||0||0||4||0||2.52|
|Brian Fuentes (BS,2)||2||2||1||1||1||5||1||2.81|
|Blaine Neal (L,1-3)||0||1||1||1||0||0||1||7.15|
|Pitches-Strikes - Joe Kennedy 92-53, David Cortes 11-7, Jay Witasick 32-24, Brian Fuentes 40-29, Blaine Neal 5-4|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Joe Kennedy 7-5, David Cortes 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Joe Kennedy 23, David Cortes 4, Jay Witasick 7, Brian Fuentes 9, Blaine Neal 1|
|Grady Sizemore, CF||4||0||1||1||1||2||0||.306|
|Coco Crisp, LF||5||0||1||0||0||1||1||.281|
|Ron Belliard, 2B||5||0||1||0||0||1||2||.289|
|Travis Hafner, DH||5||2||2||0||0||1||1||.283|
|Victor Martinez, C||3||0||1||0||1||1||1||.211|
|Alex Cora, PR||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.215|
|Josh Bard, C||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||.184|
|Jose Hernandez, 1B||1||1||1||1||0||0||0||.237|
|a- Ben Broussard, PH-1B||2||0||0||0||0||2||3||.259|
|Casey Blake, RF||4||1||1||2||1||2||3||.196|
|Aaron Boone, 3B||4||2||2||2||0||1||0||.191|
|Jhonny Peralta, SS||4||1||1||1||0||1||3||.270|
|a-struck out for Hernandez in the 8th|
|2B - Grady Sizemore (12, Kennedy), Ron Belliard (9, Fuentes), Travis Hafner 2 (14, Kennedy, Kennedy), Victor Martinez (9, Witasick), Aaron Boone (6, Kennedy)|
|HR - Casey Blake (8, Kennedy), Aaron Boone (7, Neal), Jhonny Peralta (7, Fuentes)|
|SF - Jose Hernandez (2), Aaron Boone (3)|
|SH - Jose Hernandez (1)|
|RBI - Grady Sizemore (29), Jose Hernandez (13), Casey Blake 2 (21), Aaron Boone 2 (21), Jhonny Peralta (21)|
|2-OUT RBI - Casey Blake 2 (6)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|Bob Howry (W,4-1)||1||0||0||0||0||2||0||2.83|
|WP - C.C. Sabathia (2)|
|Pitches-Strikes - C.C. Sabathia 74-46, Rafael Betancourt 28-20, Scott Sauerbeck 1-1, Matt Miller 26-18, Arthur Rhodes 15-11, Bob Wickman 9-6, Bob Howry 20-13|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - C.C. Sabathia 4-4, Rafael Betancourt 1-2, Scott Sauerbeck 1-0, Matt Miller 1-1, Bob Wickman 2-1|
|Batters Faced - C.C. Sabathia 21, Rafael Betancourt 8, Scott Sauerbeck 1, Matt Miller 6, Arthur Rhodes 4, Bob Wickman 4, Bob Howry 3|
|Attendance - 20986|
|Game Time - 3:32|
|Temperature - 74|
|Umpires - Home - C.B. Bucknor, First Base - Phil Cuzzi, Second Base - Ed Rapuano, Third Base - Jerry Crawford|