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CLEVELAND — Ubaldo Jimenez couldn't do it with seven strong innings. Nick Swisher couldn't do it with four straight hits, but what about Crash Carson?
Following singles by Yan Gomes and Asdrubal Cabrera and a two-out walk by Mike Aviles to load the bases in the 11th inning Thursday night, Carson singled to right field to give the Indians a 2-1 victory over Houston. The victory was the Indians' 10th walk-off win of the season and gave them a 10-2 record in extra innings.
Carson, a September call-up, has earned his nickname crash for running into outfield walls, but ran into a Rhiner Cruz pitch and sent it into right field for the game-winner. Carson came into the game as a defensive replacement in the top of the 10th.
Bryan Shaw (5-3) pitched the 11th for the victory.
The Indians remain a half-game behind Texas and Tampa Bay for the AL's second wild-card spot.
They gained ground as the Orioles and Yankees both lost. Baltimore is two games out of the wild card, idle Kansas City is three back, and the Yankees are 3 1/2 games back.
The Indians missed a chance to take the lead in the eighth when Swisher and Jason Kipnis hit consecutive singles to put runners on first and second with one out against lefty Kevin Chapman.
Jose Ramirez pinch-ran for Swisher, representing the go-ahead run, but Chapman struck out Carlos Santana and Gomes to end the inning.
By taking Swisher out of the game, manager Terry Francona removed his hottest hitter — Swisher was 4-for-4 — and also forfeited the DH as Santana replaced Swisher at first. Losing the DH wasn't that big of a deal because of September's expanded rosters, but taking Swisher out of the game was a gamble.
Chris Perez relieved Joe Smith to start the ninth and pitched himself into a one-out, bases-loaded mess. Perez, however, struck out Brett Wallace and L.J. Hoes to escape.
Cody Clark, who entered the game 1-for-29, opened the 10th with a double past third. It was his second hit of the game. Jake Elmore pinch ran for Clark and Gomes promptly picked him off second base thanks to a great tag by Cabrera.
The pickoff play short-circuited the inning as Cody Allen retired the next two batters. It was the third runner Gomes threw out.
The first seven innings were dominated by the starting pitchers, Jimenez and Houston lefty Dallas Keuchel.
Jimenez, who lowered his ERA since the All-Star break to 1.77, allowed one run on six hits in seven innings. He struck out nine and walked one on 98 pitches.
In his last thee starts, Jimenez has allowed two earned runs and four walks, while striking out 31 batters in 28 1/3 innings.
Keuchel, like Jimenez, left after seven impressive innings. He allowed one run on seven hits, while striking out seven and walking one on 112 pitches.
The Indians took a 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI single by Kipnis. Swisher doubled with one out and scored on Kipnis' single through the middle. The single ended Kipnis' 0-for-11 skid and gave him four RBI in September.
The Astros, who didn't arrive in Cleveland until 6 a.m. Thursday after losing an extra inning game Wednesday night to Cincinnati in Houston, tied it on a sacrifice fly by Hoes in the second.
Houston started the inning with three straight singles by Marc Krauss, Matt Dominguez and Chris Carter to load the bases. Jimenez threw a called third strike past Wallace for the first out of the inning before Hoes tied it on his fly ball to right. With Dominguez on third, Cody Clark tried to reach on a bunt down the third-base line, but Jimenez came off the mound quickly and made a strong throw to first to end the inning.
After the first, the Indians didn't do much against Keuchel. In a relief appearance against the Indians on April 20, he allowed seven runs, three earned, on seven hits in 2 2/3 innings in a 19-6 loss. Thursday night Keuchel looked like the left-hander who threw his first complete game victory against the Indians June 23, 2012, at Minuter Maid Park.
Swisher kept setting the table for the Tribe, but Kipnis kept hitting into double plays. In the third Swisher singled with one out, but Kipnis hit into a 6-4-3 double play. Swisher started the sixth with a single, but Kipnis hit into 4-6-3 inning-ender.
Houston had the same kind of luck against Jimenez after the second.
Krauss opened the fourth with a double, but Jimenez struck out Dominquez, retired Carter on a grounder to third and struck out Wallace.
Hoes started the fifth with a single. He went to second on Clark's groundout. It appeared Gomes picked him off at second, but second base umpire Jordan Baker called Hoes safe.
Hoes, with Jonathan Villar batting, tried to advance to third on a pitch in the dirt, but Gomes threw him out.