Indians 9, Athletics 5
CLEVELAND (AP) _ Kenny Lofton and Jim Thome homered in the first and Dave Burba pitched five innings before the rain came Thursday night as the Cleveland Indians avoided a sweep with a 9-5 win over the Oakland Athletics.
Lofton’s leadoff homer, Thome’s two-run shot off Tim Hudson (1-2) and Manny Ramirez’s two-run homer in the seventh enabled the Indians to salvage the series finale and conclude a season-opening homestand at 2-4.
Roberto Alomar went 3-for-4 _ he also hit a line drive off Hudson’s chest that forced him to leave _ as Cleveland finally broke out of a team-wide hitting slump at Jacobs Field. The Indians batted just .215 in their first five home games.
The Indians will begin a three-game series in Boston on Friday, their first meeting with the Red Sox since blowing a 2-0 lead in the AL playoffs last October. Pedro Martinez will pitch the opener for the Red Sox.
Oakland’s John Jaha tied a major league record by striking out five times in a nine-inning game. Jaha is the 38th player in history to match the dubious feat and first since Thome, who struck out five times against Tampa Bay on April 9.
Burba (2-1) bounced back from a rough start against Texas by striking out nine. He didn’t return after the game was delayed for 1 hour, 42 minutes in the top of the sixth.
The A’s loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth off Scott Kamieniecki, who grabbed Ryan Christenson’s hard liner to end the inning and slammed the ball off the mound in disgust.
He was pounding his glove an inning later when Matt Stairs hit a two-run homer to bring Oakland within 6-4. But Ricardo Rincon came in with a runner on and struck out Ben Grieve and Eric Chavez.
Ramirez hit his fifth homer in the seventh off T.J. Mathews and Jacob Cruz added an RBI to put Cleveland ahead 9-4.
Hudson left in the third inning with a bruised chest after being struck by Alomar’s liner.
With one out and a runner on first, Alomar sent a drive that nailed Hudson as the right-hander was making his follow-through. Hudson grabbed his chest and squatted down behind the mound in pain as the ball rolled into right field and Alomar reached first.
Hudson was replaced by Ron Mahay, who gave up an RBI groundout to Ramirez as the Indians opened a 4-2 lead.
Notes: Oakland has had five players strike out five times in a game. Jose Canseco was the last A’s player to do so on July 16, 1997, against Kansas City. ... A’s hitters have 99 strikeouts in their last 10 games. ... Alomar made his third error in five games. He had a 65-game errorless streak last season and made just three errors in his last 92 games. ... Lofton has homered leading off a game 17 times during the regular season in his career and once in the postseason. ... Bobby Witt will make his first start for the Indians on Friday night in Boston against Martinez. Witt, who unexpectedly made Cleveland’s staff after being invited to spring training as a non-roster player, is 12-5 in his career against the Red Sox.