Tribe win 6th straight on Lofton's walk

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Kenny Lofton figures he has the advantage when he's batting with the bases loaded.

"The pressure is always on the pitcher," he said. "He's got to throw strikes."

Seattle reliever Rick White didn't throw enough strikes in the ninth inning Thursday night, walking Lofton to force home the winning run as the Cleveland Indians beat the Mariners 6-5 for their sixth straight win.

The Indians maintained their 4 1/2 -game lead over Detroit in the AL Central. The Mariners, who have lost six in a row, fell a game behind the New York Yankees in the wild-card race and 5 1/2 back of the first-place Los Angeles Angels in the AL West.

After the Mariners tied the score with a run in the ninth, Victor Martinez singled off Eric O'Flaherty (7-1) with one out in the bottom half. Ryan Garko was hit by a pitch before White relieved and retired Jhonny Peralta on a fly ball. Franklin Gutierrez walked to load the bases and Lofton worked the count to 3-2 before taking ball four.

"I thought it was a strike," White said. "I don't know if he jumped so bad that he locked up the umpire. He said it was high and inside. I'm not convinced it was high. I looked at the tape and it didn't look high."

Joe Borowski (3-5) got the win after giving up the tying run in the top of the ninth on Yuniesky Betancourt's RBI groundout.

Pinch-hitter Ben Broussard walked leading off the inning and Kenji Johjima followed with a bloop single before Adam Jones advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt. Betancourt's slow grounder got past Borowski and was fielded by second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera, whose only play was at first as Broussard scored.

Ichiro Suzuki was intentionally walked before Jose Vidro struck out to end the inning. It was Borowski's sixth blown save in 45 chances.

"There's no other way to put it, the walk dictated everything that happened after that," Borowski said. "What are you going to do? I was lucky they only scored one run and we came back. It was a big win."

Mariners first baseman Richie Sexson left in the fifth with tightness in his left hamstring, and manager John McLaren said Sexson might be out for a few days.

The game was the third of four makeups the teams have been forced to play since their scheduled four-game series in Cleveland was postponed by snow in early April. The final makeup will be played as part of a doubleheader in Seattle on Sept. 26.

Seattle Mariners' Ichiro Suzuki pops-out to first in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Cleveland Indians, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2007, in Cleveland. Seattle tied the game in the top of the ninth inning but a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the inning gave Cleveland a 6-5 win.

The Mariners began a 10-game road trip in frustrating fashion.

"We did everything we were supposed to do but win the game," McLaren said.

With stops in Toronto, New York and Detroit ahead on their trip, the Mariners have picked a bad time to be playing poorly.

"We're such a streaky club. I wish I could point to why, but we're just streaky," McLaren said.

Indians manager Eric Wedge was ejected by plate umpire Sam Holbrook in the fourth. With Jason Michaels on first, Wedge thought pitcher Horacio Ramirez committed a balk while throwing to the bag. Michaels was fooled by the move and was thrown out going to second.

The Mariners scored twice in the seventh to erase the Indians' 3-2 lead. Jones, who homered in the sixth, singled to tie the game before Betancourt's single put the Mariners ahead.

The Indians responded quickly. Grady Sizemore drew a one-out walk from George Sherrill and Travis Hafner singled before Martinez's single scored Sizemore. Brandon Morrow relieved, but Garko doubled over the head of left fielder Raul Ibanez to score Hafner.

"It was a great game to watch, but a terrible one to lose," White said.

Rafael Perez pitched 1 2-3 scoreless innings for Cleveland. He struck out four, including three in the eighth.

Michaels' two-run single and Chris Gomez's RBI single highlighted the Indians' three-run third.

Cleveland rookie Aaron Laffey took a 3-0 lead into the sixth before Seattle came back. Jones led off the inning with a home run, his first of the season. Betancourt doubled and scored on Jose Guillen's two-out single.

Ramirez allowed three runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings. Laffey gave up four runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings.


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