Indians 7, Rangers 6

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CLEVELAND (AP) – Kevin Mench homered in his seventh straight game for Texas, but the Cleveland Indians managed to beat the Rangers 7-6 Friday night for their third straight victory.

Mench was 0-for-3 before hitting an 0-2 pitch from Guillermo Mota just over the left-field wall to open the eighth inning after Cleveland had scored twice in the seventh.

He became the first right-handed batter to reach the plateau, joining Jim Thome, Don Mattingly, Dale Long and Ken Griffey Jr, who share the major league record with homers in eight straight games.

Victor Martinez drew a bases-loaded walk off Ron Mahay to snap a 4-4 tie in the seventh and Eduardo Perez followed with an RBI on a fielder’s choice to put Cleveland ahead, 6-4.

Rick Bauer (1-1) put the first two runners on before Mahay came on with one out and walked both Travis Hafner and Martinez to force in a run.

The Rangers closed to 6-5 on Mench’s homer, but the Indians got the run back on an RBI double by Jason Michaels.

Jason Davis (1-0) pitched a perfect seventh for the victory. Bob Wickman gave up one run on consecutive doubles by Michael Young and Mark Teixeira in the ninth, but Wickman got Mench to pop out for his fifth save.

Wickman tied a career high with his 21st consecutive save since Aug. 6 and matched Doug Jones for the Cleveland club record with 129.

The teams exchanged leads all night.

Hank Blalock had an RBI single in the first off Jason Johnson. Teixeira was out trying to score from second on the play. Plate umpire Brian O’Nora waited to see if catcher Martinez held the ball before signalling out – triggering a protest from Rangers third-base coach Steve Smith, who was quickly ejected.

Jhonny Peralta had a run-scoring single and scored on a double by Martinez in the bottom half to put Cleveland ahead 2-1 against John Koronka.

Texas got consecutive RBI singles from Phil Nevin and Blalock in the fifth for a 3-2 lead.

Cleveland tied it when Blake walked and scored from first on Michaels’ one-out double.

Texas took a 4-3 lead on Gary Matthews Jr.’s sacrifice fly, but Cleveland answered with an RBI single by Aaron Boone.

Notes: Koronka, who had won his three previous starts, gave up six hits and four runs over 5 2-3 innings. The left-hander walked four and struck out two. … Johnson allowed 12 hits and four runs over six innings, walking two and striking out one. The 12 hits tied a career high. He also gave up 12 at Tampa Bay on Aug. 9, 1999.

AP-ES-04-28-06 2229EDT

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