CLEVELAND - Trailing by 10 runs, Victor Martinez told his Cleveland Indians teammates they could win.
Martinez, in an 0-for-18 slump, backed up his words by lining a two-out, two-run single to cap a seven-run ninth inning that gave the Indians an 11-10 win over the Tampa Bay Rays last night.
"You never know what's going to happen," Martinez said after his hit off Jason Isringhausen (0-1) ruined the Rays' night, which began with the much-awaited season debut of starter David Price. The left-hander was staked to a 10-0 lead but ran his pitch count up and lasted only 31/3 innings.
"When he came out, I said, 'Go out there and be a tough out, and just keep battling,'•" Martinez said. "That's what we did."
The Indians became the first team to make up a
10-run deficit and win since the Texas Rangers rallied to beat the Detroit Tigers 16-15 on May 8, 2004, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"When you do something like this, it is special," Indians manager Eric Wedge said.
It was the largest blown lead in Rays history. Tampa Bay had twice led games 10-2 before losing 20-11 each time - to the New York Yankees in 2005 and Cleveland in 1999.
Ryan Garko's two-run homer off Price in the fourth started the comeback. His three-run shot in the ninth off Grant Balfour made it 10-7.
"I wanted to put the barrel of the bat on the ball and just happened to hit a home run," Garko said of his second homer. "The important thing was not making the last out. Nobody wanted to do that."
Jeremy Sowers (1-2) pitched five scoreless innings for the win in his first relief appearance after 51 career starts.
The loss was Tampa Bay's 14th in a row in Cleveland.
The teams combined to use 11 pitchers, who issued a total of 19 walks - 10 by the Rays.
Isringhausen walked the first three men he faced, forcing in one run to make it 10-9. Martinez then lined a 3-2 pitch to center and was mobbed by teammates in Cleveland's biggest win of a disappointing season.
"The walks are unacceptable," Isringhausen. "I'd rather give up home runs than walk guys."
Garko said he felt confident seeing Martinez at the plate with the game on the line. The catcher leads the Indians with 32 RBIs and a .364 batting average.
"That's the guy you want up there in that spot," Garko said.
Price struggled with his command, walking five.
"He had great stuff but was all over the place," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Indians starter Fausto Carmona was even wilder. The right-hander unraveled in the second inning, walking the first four men he faced on 20 pitches and giving up five runs while registering only one out.
Gabe Gross hit a two-run homer and drove in three runs for the Rays.
Price struck out the side in the first after Jamey Carroll drew a leadoff walk and went to third on a bloop double by Grady Sizemore. But he couldn't complete the five innings required of a starter to earn a win. The left-hander gave up two runs and four hits, striking out six. He threw 100 pitches - 57 for strikes.
"I was averaging 10 pitches an out," Price said. "I didn't have a feel for anything."
Price started in place of the injured Scott Kazmir.