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CLE@TEX: Kipnis goes yard to pad ninth-inning lead

ARLINGTON -- Lonnie Chisenhall's legs were churning and Indians third-base coach Steve Smith's arm was waving. As the rookie rounded second base, and the baseball that rocketed off Michael Brantley's bat skipped to the right-field corner, fatigue set in.

"I hit a wall," Chisenhall said after the Indians' 7-5 comeback victory over the Rangers on Saturday night. "It was a long trek from first to home."

It felt even longer from the visitors' dugout at Rangers Ballpark, where the Indians shifted to the railing and began shouting, trying to will Chisenhall around the basepaths. After so many disheartening losses in recent days, this was one run Cleveland wanted, one the ballclub felt it needed.

"For us on the bench," Indians manager Manny Acta said, "it looked like it was taking him too long. We were desperate for him to score."

Chisenhall's mad dash culminated with a slide just ahead of a relay throw from right field. It was an emphatic go-ahead run within a four-run burst for the Indians. The late flurry erased what would have been a crushing blow on a road trip that easily could have been this season's knockout punch.

Instead, the Tribe continued to overcome itself -- two errors and another shaky ninth inning from closer Chris Perez provided plenty of undesired drama -- to stay in the American League Central race. With the win, Cleveland (56-55) remained four games behind the first-place Tigers in a battle that seems destined to go down to the wire.

The Indians improved to 3-3 with one game to play on this seven-game tour through Boston and Texas -- cities that hardly lay out a welcome mat for opposing clubs. All three losses (two against the Red Sox and another on Friday night against the Rangers) have come in walk-off fashion.

That made Saturday's rally taste that much sweeter.

"I think this was exactly what we needed," rookie second baseman Jason Kipnis said, "to be able to respond the way we did tonight."

Cleveland's youth movement certainly was on display in its latest act.

Trailing, 4-3, in the ninth inning, Kosuke Fukudome doubled off Rangers closer Neftali Feliz and then moved to third base on a sacrifice bunt from rookie outfielder Ezequiel Carrera. Chisenhall then pulled an 0-2 pitch from Feliz into right field for a single that pulled the contest into a 4-4 deadlock.

Brantley, who has been dealing with a sore right wrist, then delivered the critical double that allowed Chisenhall to score from first base. One batter later, Kipnis clubbed a two-run homer -- his fifth blast in his past seven games -- that pushed the Cleveland ahead, 7-4.

"Fukudome started the whole thing," Acta said. "And then the young kids took over."

The comeback enabled Indians starter Fausto Carmona -- who gave up four runs (two earned) over 6 1/3 innings -- to escape with a no-decision rather than a hard-luck loss. Carmona and Texas lefty C.J. Wilson traded zeros for six frames before the lineups came alive in the seventh.

The extreme heat might have been to blame for the dry spell in the early going. Saturday's game-time temperature -- announced at 106 degrees -- was a record for Rangers Ballpark. As the sun began to set, the offense began to show.

Thanks in part to a throwing gaffe by third baseman Michael Young, Cleveland collected three runs in the seventh inning. A half-frame later, the Rangers (63-51) answered with four of their own. Two of Texas' runs were deemed unearned in light of a fielding blunder up the middle by shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.

The comeback overcame such missteps.

"We're young and we are going to make mistakes," Acta said. "But we're never going to give up. These guys have shown that ability from Day 1, the ability to come back and put rough moments behind. Today was just another case of that."

That included the ninth inning, which featured a touch of deja vu.

One night after creating two quick outs before blowing a save, Perez retired the first two Texas hitters he encountered. Then, the Tribe's All-Star closer walked Ian Kinsler, allowed an RBI single to Elvis Andrus and gave up a base hit to Josh Hamilton to bring Young to the plate.

Young, naturally, was the one who launched a game-tying homer off Perez on Friday.

That was hardly Perez's plan, but the Indians closer did not mind having such a quick reunion with Young. Of course, such things are easier to say after inducing a game-ending groundout, notching a 23rd save and sealing a much-needed win.

"After everything settled there, I got out of it," Perez said. "It's definitely nice to go out there and face the same guy that beat me [Friday] night and get him out."

And it was nice for the Indians to rediscover their late-inning magic.

"It's fun to win one in the ninth," Chisenhall said. "We've had a few tough losses here, losing late in the game. It's exhausting like that."

Much like his sprint home in the decisive frame.

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