- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 27, 2016

CLEVELAND (AP) - Jonathan Papelbon has blown saves in much bigger games.

This one, though, seemed to sting like one in October.

Papelbon couldn’t get an out and blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning as the Cleveland Indians rallied for three runs in their final at-bat to stun the Washington Nationals 7-6 on Tuesday night.

Pitching in his fourth game in five days, Papelbon (2-4) was done in by a leadoff walk, an error and two hits.

“There were a few things I’d like to have back,” said Papelbon, pulled in the ninth by manager Dusty Baker. “Put all that together and it makes for an inning like you saw tonight.”



Francisco Lindor pushed an RBI single through Washington’s drawn-in infield with one out to win it for the Indians, playing their first home game since July 10.

Papelbon has allowed six earned runs in his past two games, a startling stat for the consistent closer.

“He doesn’t have his command, which is evident when you walk the leadoff hitter,” Baker said. “What do you say? How does he look? Right now he doesn’t look like Pap. He doesn’t look very good.”

Baker wouldn’t say if he’s considering a change with his closer.

“It’s too soon to say after the game,” Baker said. “That’s his job. That’s what he’s getting paid for. We just have to go back to the drawing board.”

Papelbon remains confident he can get the job done.

“My confidence in this game’s never fluctuated and never will,” he said. “I think that’s something that never really has happened to me.”

Anthony Rendon hit a two-run homer and Wilson Ramos added a solo shot for the NL East-leading Nationals, just 4-6 since the All-Star break.

The Indians, who overcame three errors, began their rally when Papelbon walked leadoff hitter Jose Ramirez. Pinch-hitter Tyler Naquin followed with an RBI double to left-center, and Chris Gimenez dropped down a bunt. Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman fielded and threw past second baseman Daniel Murphy covering the bag for an error, allowing Naquin to score the tying run.

Rajai Davis then intentionally popped up his bunt attempt, with the ball dropping onto the infield grass for a single as the Nationals were shifting on the pitch. Baker lifted Papelbon for Oliver Perez, who got Jason Kipnis to fly to left for the first out. Lindor fouled off one pitch before getting his single past Murphy to score Gimenez as the Indians poured out of the dugout and onto the field.

Before Cleveland’s comeback, Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez was in line to improve his unbeaten record against Cleveland. The left-hander allowed two runs and five hits in 6 1/3 innings and is 5-0 with a 1.07 ERA in eight career starts against the Indians.

According to the Nationals, Gonzalez’s 1.07 ERA is the lowest for any pitcher in major league history with at least eight starts against Cleveland.

Rendon broke a 2-all tie in the fourth with his homer off All-Star Danny Salazar, who was in jeopardy of losing for the first time since May 22. He lasted a season-low four-plus innings.

SCARY MOMENT

A 75-year-old woman was taken to a hospital after being hit in the face with a foul ball off Murphy’s bat.

Muir West was sitting down the right-field line - and might have been blinded by the sun - when she was struck by a hard shot from Murphy in the first inning. Fans sitting in her section immediately called for security and medical personnel, who rushed to her.

A family member said West’s glasses were broken in the mishap and she received a cut on her face.

Her wound was heavily bandaged before she was placed on a stretcher and taken to MetroHealth Hospital. There was no immediate word on her condition.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Nationals: Zimmerman returned from the disabled list after missing 13 games with a strained left rib cage and went 0 for 4.

Indians: OF Michael Brantley feels encouraged after hitting in the cage for two days following a small procedure to relieve discomfort in his surgically repaired right shoulder. Brantley has been on the disabled list since May 14. He was on a rehab assignment at Double-A Akron recently when he had a setback in his recovery. However, the former All-Star remains confident he can have an impact this season.

UP NEXT

Nationals: Stephen Strasburg, who took his first loss last week after starting the season 13-0, makes his first start against Cleveland since 2013.

Indians: Carlos Carrasco will be pitching on six days’ rest because of a pair of scheduled off days. He’s won five of his last six starts, posting a 1.16 ERA.

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