Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Chris Perez gave up a solo home run to Tampa Bay's Will Rhymes in the ninth inning Sunday, July 8 in Cleveland. The Indians lost 7-6.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge
CLEVELAND -- Perfect in converting save opportunities since opening day, Chris Perez was probably due for a bad day.
Unfortunately for the Indians, their all-star pitcher had one Sunday.
Perez allowed three runs in the ninth inning as Tampa Bay rallied for a 7-6 win in the final game before the All-Star break. Cleveland's outspoken closer, who has made headlines by irritating opponents and criticizing Cleveland fans for not attending games, hadn't blown a save since he failed to hold a lead in the opener against Toronto on April 5.
"It's been good so far but obviously, the first day and the last day of the first half stunk," Perez said.
Perez (0-2) had converted 24 straight save opportunities.
"Obviously, I would like for it to continue, but that's not baseball," he said. "I made some bad pitches, and they hit them."
Indians manager Manny Acta knew Perez's streak had to end eventually.
"I'll take my chances tomorrow or whenever we play again after the All-Star break going into the ninth inning with Chris on the mound," he said. "This guy has been fantastic for us. He's human. That's going to happen."
Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who will also represent the Indians in Tuesday night's game in Kansas City, also played a role in the loss. His sixth-inning error on a dropped throw with Cleveland leading 5-0 led to four unearned runs and got the Rays back in the game.
"We can't get on these two guys for one game," Acta said. "These guys are responsible for where we are today.
"They've carried us for a lot of games."
The second-place Indians are 44-41 and trail Chicago by three games going into the break.
"I'm satisfied where we stand, but we must play better in the second half," said general manager Chris Antonetti. "It's just such a competitive division, very balanced."
Shin-Soo Choo's solo homer in the eighth gave the Indians a 6-4 lead. Perez struck out Jose Lobaton to start the ninth, but then the trouble started. Light-hitting Will Rhymes belted a 2-2 pitch into the seats in right for his first homer of the season and only the second in his career.
"I was trying to come in and I left it over the plate," Perez said.
Elliot Johnson followed with a single before Carlos Pena sent a drive into left-center. Michael Brantley, who was shaded toward right-center, missed on a diving attempt and the ball rolled toward the wall. Johnson scored the tying run and Pena ended up with a triple.
Ben Zobrist then singled home Pena with the go-ahead run before Perez got two strikeouts to end the inning.