ARLINGTON, Texas -- Kevin Kouzmanoff stepped into the batter's box with the bases loaded for his first major league at bat, and his Cleveland Indians teammates had the audacity to predict a grand slam for the rookie.
Kouzmanoff, subbing for grand slam master Travis Hafner, homered with the bases loaded on the first major league pitch he faced, and the Indians went on to stretch their winning streak to five games with a 6-5 victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday night.
"Everybody in the dugout was saying he was about to do it," Indians starter Cliff Lee said. "It's pretty impressive to do it on the first pitch he faced in the big leagues. He wasn't scared. He went up there and hit his pitch."
With Hafner out due to a bruised right hand, Kouzmanoff made a smashing major league debut as a designated hitter a few hours after he was called up from Triple-A Buffalo.
Kouzmanoff had a few nervous moments on Saturday afternoon when his flight to Dallas/Fort Worth International was delayed, but he reached the ballpark in time for batting practice.
It wasn't long before he was circling the bases on his grand slam, just like Hafner has done six times this season to tie a major league record.
"I don't really remember running around the bases," Kouzmanoff said. "I couldn't believe I did it. It hasn't sunk in yet. I still can't believe I did it."
Grady Sizemore led off the game with a homer for the fourth time this season and seventh of his career.
The Indians loaded the bases later in the first against Rangers starter Edinson Volquez (1-4). Kouzmanoff knocked Volquez's first pitch over the center field wall to give the Indians a 5-0 lead.
"He went up there ready to hit and got on one," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. "Obviously it was a huge lift for us. It was a big hit early and it ended up being the difference in the ball game."
Volquez allowed eight baserunners in 1 2/3 innings, giving up six runs and five hits.
Kouzmanoff became the third player in major league history with a grand slam in his first at bat. The others are Jeremy Hermida for the Florida Marlins against St. Louis Cardinals on Aug. 31, 2005, and Bill Duggleby for Philadelphia Phillies against the New York Giants on April 21, 1898.
Kouzmanoff joins Hermida, Duggleby and Bobby Bonds (on June 25, 1968 for the San Francisco Giants against the Los Angeles Dodgers) as the only players with grand slams in their first major league game.
Cleveland, which has won nine of 10, padded its advantage to 6-0 in the second on Victor Martinez's sacrifice fly.
Lee (11-10) allowed four runs and seven hits in seven innings. He struck out four and walked one.
The Rangers cut the deficit to 6-2 in the second on Nelson Cruz's RBI double and Gary Matthews Jr.'s run-producing ground-out, and then made it 6-4 in the sixth on Ian Kinsler's two-run single.
Tom Mastny pitched the ninth for his fifth save in as many chances despite allowing a run. Gerald Laird led off the ninth with a single and went to third on Kinsler's double. After Nelson Cruz grounded out, Matthews Jr. singled in Laird but Kinsler was called out on right fielder Casey Blake's one-hop throw to Martinez.
Rangers third base coach Steve Smith did not hesitate to send Kinsler, and Smith was convinced that home plate umpire Dale Scott made the wrong decision.
"If I don't send him, I've got 40,000 (fans) yelling at me," Smith said. "It took a perfect throw and (Kinsler) was still safe."
Said Kinsler: "I thought my foot beat the ball. I thought I got in there. It's frustrating because that play could have tied the game but it didn't go our way."
From the perspective of the other dugout, Wedge felt that Kinsler was out.
"I haven't seen the replay but it looked like the ball beat him," Wedge said. "And (Martinez) did a good job of catching and hanging on with the tag."
- The Indians' longest winning streak of the season is six games, accomplished twice.
- Cleveland has 12 grand slams this season, tying the 1999 club record.
- The Indians are within four games of .500 (65-69) for the first time since July 4 when they were 39-43.
- The Rangers have lost eight of 12.
- Lee had been 1-4 with three no-decisions since July 13.