CLEVELAND (AP) — All-Star Chris Perez blew his first save since opening day and the Tampa Bay Rays scored three runs in the ninth inning to beat the Cleveland Indians 7-6 Sunday.
Will Rhymes hit a solo homer with one out and Carlos Pena added a RBI triple after Elliot Johnson singled to tie it at 6 off Perez (0-2), who had converted 25 straight saves since giving up a lead April 5. Ben Zobrist then singled home Pena with the go-ahead run before Perez got two strikeouts to end the inning.
Fellow All-Star Fernando Rodney worked the bottom half for his 25th save in 26 chances. Joel Peralta (1-3) gave up a solo homer to Shin-Soo Choo in the eighth.
The Rays earned a four-game series split with their fourth win in 14 games.
It was the fourth loss in 11 games for Cleveland, which got three hits apiece from Casey Kotchman and Michael Brantley.
Cleveland put runners on first and third in the ninth against Rodney, who got Kotchman to ground into a game-ending forceout.
Kotchman had three RBIs against his former team as Cleveland took a 5-0 lead against starter James Shields.
Indians starter Zach McAllister didn’t allow a hit until No. 9 hitter Rhymes’ one-out single in the fifth. Luke Scott and Desmond Jennings each had two-run doubles in the sixth, when the Rays scored four unearned runs.
Kotchman had an RBI single in the second, opened the fourth with his eighth homer, and singled home another run in the fifth. The first baseman hit .306 for Tampa Bay a year ago before signing with Cleveland as a free agent in February.
Johnny Damon, who also left the Rays to sign with the Indians this spring, tripled to open the third, just missing a home run with a drive off the top of the wall in right center. He scored when Shields threw the ball away trying for a pickoff. Damon trotted home on the error for a 2-0 lead.
Two outs later, Jason Kipnis doubled. He scored when Travis Hafner then hit a high bouncer that went under the glove of third baseman Jeff Keppinger for another error.
Kipnis singled to start the fifth and later scored on Kotchman’s third hit for a 5-0 lead.
All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera’s error opened the door for the Rays in the sixth.
Pena got the Rays’ second hit, beating out a slow roller to second with one out. Ben Zobrist followed with a grounder to second baseman Jason Kipnis, whose throw to second was dropped by Cabrera. McAllister got B.J. Upton on a fly ball, but Scott doubled off the right-center wall for two runs.
After McAllister walked Keppinger, Jennings lined a two-run double to the right-center gap, making it 5-4.
Shields gave up 10 hits and four earned runs over seven innings, throwing 121 pitches. It was the third game in a row and fifth time overall that Shields allowed 10 or more hits.
NOTES: The Rays’ two errors gave them 71, second-most in the majors to Baltimore. … Cleveland put LHP Nick Hagadone on its minor-league disqualified list, one day after optioning him to Triple-A Columbus. General manager Chris Antonetti said Hagadone suffered “a self-inflicted injury to his pitching hand” after leaving a game Friday. He won’t get paid while on the disqualified list and may require season-ending surgery. … Jennings, batting .161 in his last 20 games in the leadoff spot, was moved to seventh. … Rays manager Joe Maddon said RHP Jeremy Hellickson will pitch the first game after the All-Star break Friday against Boston. All-Star LHP David Price, expected to work in Tuesday’s classic, will start Saturday. Maddon said Shields, RHP Alex Cobb and LHP Matt Moore would then start the next three games.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.