Houston at Cleveland

W: S. Kazmir (9-9) L: P. Clemens (4-6)
HR: HOU - C. Carter (28)   CLE - M. Brantley (9)

Indians top Astros to maintain wild-card spot

CBSSports.com wire reports

CLEVELAND -- A playoff contender in September, the Indians drew their largest crowd in almost a month and gave fans something to cheer about.

Scott Kazmir allowed four hits in seven shutout innings, Michael Brantley hit a two-run homer in a three-run first inning and the Indians maintained their hold on an AL wild-card spot with a 4-1 win over the Houston Astros on Saturday night.

Cleveland leads Texas by a half-game for the AL's second wild card. The Indians, who have won eight of their last 10, trail Tampa Bay by a half-game for the wild-card lead.

"There's nothing like that atmosphere," Nick Swisher said. "We've got to keep winning, but I'm telling you, man, when you have fan support like that it's so easy to get up for games. We're so happy everybody showed up and everybody had a great time."

Swisher, who scored a run, had a hit and walked twice, picked up the tab for a postgame fireworks show. Despite being in the playoff race, Cleveland went into Saturday 14th among AL teams in attendance at 19,317, ahead of only Tampa Bay (18,457), according to STATS.

Saturday's crowd of 26,611 was the Indians' largest at home since 26,870 watched a game against Minnesota on Aug. 24.

"It was really welcome," manager Terry Francona said. "I think players probably appreciate that. There was a little extra energy tonight. This time of year that can't hurt anybody."

Swisher and several teammates tossed miniature baseballs into the stands following the game.

The Indians passed Texas with Friday's rain-shortened 2-1 win, moving into a wild-card spot for the first time since before play on Aug. 5. Following Sunday's series finale, Cleveland hosts the Chicago White Sox for two games before closing the regular season with four games at Minnesota.

"As close as we are, we can almost taste it," Kazmir said. "So you want to go out and give it everything you've got."

Francona has a simple philosophy when it comes to dealing with a playoff chase.

"When we win, we're fine, when we lose, you hope," he said. "It's not do or die. It's do, or it hurts."

Houston, a major league-worst 51-104, is on a season-high eight-game losing streak and has totaled just 12 runs during the skid. Houston is three losses from matching the club record set last season. The Astros scored when Chris Carter homered against Joe Smith with two outs in the ninth.

Kazmir (9-9) struck out 10 and walked two. He had been 1-5 with a 5.82 ERA in his previous seven starts.

He gave up Jonathan Villar's single to start the game, then included a double-play grounder from Jose Altuve and didn't allow another runner until a single opening the fifth by Carter, who had three hits.

Kazmir, who was pitching for the Sugar Land Skeeters in an independent league last season, has far exceeded the Indians' expectations.

"This is exciting," Francona said. "Knowing Kaz, the bigger the game, he's not going to shy away from that."

"You definitely have to tip your hat to Kazmir tonight," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "He had an explosive fastball and did a tremendous job with his breakaway stuff."

Cody Allen relieved following to L.J. Hoes' leadoff double in the eighth.

Brantley's home run capped Cleveland's three-run first inning. Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall also drove in runs for Cleveland.

Paul Clemens (4-6) allowed four runs in 4 2-3 innings in his fourth start of the season after making 30 appearances out of the bullpen.


Francona said RHP Justin Masterson (strained left oblique) likely will throw a simulated game Sunday or Monday. It's possible Masterson, who left his start against Baltimore on Sept. 2 in the second inning, will be ready to pitch in relief before the regular season ends. ... Francona said he contacted Boston manager John Farrell after the Red Sox clinched the AL East on Friday night. Farrell was Boston's pitching coach during Francona's tenure as manager and the two are friends. ... Astros 3B Matt Dominguez (left hand) returned to the lineup after sitting out one game. He was struck on the left hand Thursday by a pitch from Indians RHP Chris Perez. "Matt said it's still a little sore, but he's a pretty tough guy," Porter said. Dominguez was hitless in four at-bats. ... Astros LHP Erik Bedard (4-11) takes on Indians RHP Corey Kluber (9-5) in the four-game series finale Sunday.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
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The Indians are all smiles after knocking off the Astros to maintain their grip on the second wild-card spot.  (USATSI)
The Indians are all smiles after knocking off the Astros to maintain their grip on the second wild-card spot. (USATSI)

Players of the Game

C. Carter
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 1

M. Brantley
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1

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Houston Astros
Jonathan Villar, SS4010021 .267
Jose Altuve, 2B4000011 .283
Matt Dominguez, 3B4000020 .242
Chris Carter, 1B4131000 .226
Brandon Laird, DH3000022 .185
   a-Marc Krauss, PH-DH0000100 .207
J.D. Martinez, LF3000011 .252
   b-Trevor Crowe, PH1000001 .228
L.J. Hoes, RF2010110 .284
Brandon Barnes, CF3000013 .246
Cody Clark, C2000010 .086
   c-Carlos Corporan, PH-C1000011 .233
Paul Clemens, P0000000 .000
   Lucas Harrell, P0000000 .250
a-walked for Laird in the 9th
b-grounded out for Martinez in the 9th
c-struck out for Clark in the 8th
2B - L.J. Hoes (7, Kazmir)
HR - Chris Carter (28, Smith)
RBI - Chris Carter (78)
2-OUT RBI - Chris Carter (30)
Team LOB - 5
DP - Clark-Carter
E - Lucas Harrell (1, Throwing)
Houston Astros
Paul Clemens (L,4-6) 4.2844341 5.69
Lucas Harrell 3.1200210 5.80
WP - Lucas Harrell (8)
HBP - Gomes (by Paul Clemens)
Pitches-Strikes - Paul Clemens 91-51, Lucas Harrell 50-27
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Paul Clemens 4-6, Lucas Harrell 8-1
Batters Faced - Paul Clemens 26, Lucas Harrell 14
Cleveland Indians
Michael Bourn, CF4120101 .259
Nick Swisher, RF-1B3110200 .250
Jason Kipnis, 2B3001123 .274
Carlos Santana, 1B5000008 .265
   Matt Carson, RF0000000 .778
Michael Brantley, LF4112010 .276
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS4030000 .241
Jason Giambi, DH3000122 .177
   Jose Ramirez, PR-DH0000000 .333
Yan Gomes, C3120000 .297
Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B4011003 .226
Scott Kazmir, P0000000 .250
   Cody Allen, P0000000 .000
   Joe Smith, P0000000 .000
2B - Michael Bourn 2 (21, Clemens), Asdrubal Cabrera (33, Clemens), Yan Gomes (18, Clemens)
HR - Michael Brantley (9, Clemens)
SF - Jason Kipnis (10)
RBI - Jason Kipnis (80), Michael Brantley 2 (66), Lonnie Chisenhall (36)
2-OUT RBI - Michael Brantley 2 (30)
SB - Asdrubal Cabrera (9, 3rd base off Clemens/Clark)
Team LOB - 12
DP - Chisenhall-Kipnis-Santana
Cleveland Indians
Scott Kazmir (W,9-9) 74001100 4.14
Cody Allen 1000020 2.55
Joe Smith 1111101 2.37
Pitches-Strikes - Scott Kazmir 97-71, Cody Allen 13-9, Joe Smith 16-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Scott Kazmir 6-4, Cody Allen 1-0, Joe Smith 3-0
Batters Faced - Scott Kazmir 25, Cody Allen 3, Joe Smith 5
Game Information
Attendance - 26611
Game Time - 2:45
Temperature - 65
Umpires - Home - Jordan Baker, First Base - C.B. Bucknor, Second Base - Dale Scott, Third Base - Todd Tichenor