Rookie reliever Jensen Lewis failed to get an out on consecutive bunts by Texas and the Rangers took advantage with three runs in the 10th inning to defeat the Indians 9-6 Wednesday night.
"This is probably the lowest this team has been this year," third baseman Casey Blake said after the Indians' fourth straight loss and seventh in nine games. Cleveland had a chance to gain a share of first-place with Detroit in the AL Central for the first time since July 7. The slumping Tigers have lost eight of 10.
"Detroit's going through a tough skid, too," Blake said. "We've got two months to play and we're still in good position."
Ramon Vazquez lined a single to center to open the 10th against Lewis (0-1), who then fielded a bunt by Frank Catalanotto and threw low and too late to second to get the lead runner.
"We had a good chance there," Lewis said. "I just didn't execute."
After pitching coach Carl Willis visited the mound, Lewis grabbed another bunt by Ian Kinsler. The right-hander, in his eighth outing since being called up from Triple-A Buffalo on July 13, stumbled as he went to throw to third, then fired the ball into the dirt at first for an error, letting Vazquez score the go-ahead run.
"I slipped and it's unfortunate what happened," Lewis said. "That was the difference in the ballgame."
Michael Young was intentionally walked and Jason Botts, recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma before the game, scored Catalanotto with a sacrifice fly. Marlon Byrd followed with an RBI single.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, in his first game since being acquired from Atlanta on Tuesday for Mark Teixeira, started at first base for Texas and had a two-run single while going 1-for-5.
"It feels good to get the first one out of the way," Saltalamacchia said. "That was big for me."
Joaquin Benoit (5-3) pitched 2 2/3 innings and C.J. Wilson ended the game by striking out Kenny Lofton with two runners on for his second save. Five Rangers relievers held Cleveland to three hits over the final 5 2/3 innings.
"They did a great job," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "Each guy we brought in did the job and kept us in there."
Catalanotto's two-run double off Rafael Betancourt tied it at 6 for Texas in the seventh.
Cleveland broke a 4-all tie in the fifth on an RBI single by Blake and run-scoring double by Travis Hafner off Rangers starter John Rheinecker.
With runners on second and third, however, right-hander Willie Eyre struck out Franklin Gutierrez and Jason Michaels to end the threat.
After the Rangers loaded the bases against starter Paul Byrd with one out in the sixth, lefty Rafael Perez struck out Botts and Marlon Byrd on six pitches.
"Perez really picked us up there," Indians manager Eric Wedge said.
"We need to do better early and in the middle to make it not so hard on ourselves late." Wedge said after the Indians lost for the fourth time in eight days because of shaky defense.
Catalanotto opened the game with a double to start Texas on a three-run first inning. Young had an RBI single and Saltalamacchia followed with his first hit for his new team.
Michaels hit a solo homer and Blake a two-run shot in a four-run second inning that put Cleveland ahead 4-3.
An error by first baseman Ryan Garko, who misplayed a grounder hit by Vazquez, enabled Marlon Byrd to score from second in the third to tie it at 4.
Rheinecker allowed six runs and eight hits over 4 1/3 innings in his third appearance and second start since being recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma on July 23.