Kenny Lofton could barely talk--and neither could about 20,000 fans who stayed until the end, or the shocked Seattle Mariners.
Stunned. Breathless. Amazing. Describing the Cleveland Indians' comeback wasn't easy.
The Indians tied a major league record and became the first team in 76 years to overcome a 12-run deficit to win, defeating the Mariners, 15-14, in 11 innings Sunday night at Cleveland.
Jolbert Cabrera's broken-bat, one-out single in the 11th, the game's 40th hit, scored Lofton from second with the winning run to end the 4-hour, 11-minute game that looked to be over when the Mariners led, 12-0, three hours earlier.
"I can't explain it," said Lofton. "It was unbelievable. I've never been in a game like that in my life. My voice is gone from hollering so much. It was fun. Wow."
Lofton slid headfirst into home plate ahead of left fielder Mark McLemore's throw and jumped into the waiting arms of Eddie Taubensee as the Indians poured onto the field and fans danced in the aisles.
The crowd refused to leave as the stadium speakers first blasted Kiss' "Rock and Roll All Night," followed by "Cleveland Rocks."
"It's the turning point of the season," said Cabrera after the Indians avoided another lopsided loss and crept within a half-game of the first-place Minnesota Twins in the American League Central.
The Indians scored two runs in the fourth, three in the seventh, four in the eighth and five in the ninth--after being down to their last strike three times--to become only the third team to make up 12 runs in a game and win.
The only others to do it were the 1911 Chicago White Sox and 1925 Philadelphia Athletics, who scored 13 runs in the eighth to beat the Indians, 17-15.
The Mariners sat quietly in their clubhouse shaking their heads.
"We had them down with two outs in the ninth," Mariner Manager Lou Piniella said, "and they came back and tied it. It's just one of those things that happen. It's almost impossible to do, but they did it."
John Rocker (3-4), the Indians' fifth pitcher, struck out the side in the 11th as the Indians ended a three-game losing streak.
Jim Thome hit two home runs and Russell Branyan and Marty Cordova also homered for the Indians.
Lofton singled with one out in the 11th against Jose Paniagua (3-3) and Omar Vizquel singled to right.
Cabrera's bat shattered as his hit dropped into left, and third-base coach Joel Skinner waved home Lofton.
"I had to freeze to make sure it was going to drop," Lofton said. "And when it did, I was off to the races. After I got up off the ground, Eddie picked me up like a little kid. Man, that was fun."
The Indians had 23 hits, Lofton, Vizquel and Cordova each getting four.
Vizquel's three-run triple completed the Indians' five-run ninth and capped the comeback.
Indian Manager Charlie Manuel predicted Vizquel's shot that was barely fair.
"I told Omar if he went up there and stayed patient, 'You can triple into the right-field corner,' " Manuel said.
Most of the Indian starters, including Roberto Alomar, Juan Gonzalez, Ellis Burks and Travis Fryman, had been replaced and many fans headed home by the time the Mariners opened a 14-2 lead in the fifth.
Piniella gave Ichiro Suzuki, Edgar Martinez and John Olerud an early rest too.
The Indians' rally began in the seventh when Branyan led off with his 15th homer, a shot against starter Aaron Sele.
The Indians closed to 14-5 later in the inning on a two-run single by Cabrera against John Halama.
The Indians scored four more in the eighth, with Thome's second homer--his American League-leading 36th--getting them rolling. After Branyan was hit by Halama, Cordova homered to bring Cleveland within six.
Piniella lifted Halama, but Norm Charlton couldn't stop the Indians, either, and Vizquel's run-scoring double made the score 14-9.
Still, the Indians were down by five and had a runner on with two outs in the ninth when Cordova doubled, and Piniella turned to Jeff Nelson.
Wil Cordero walked to load the bases, and Einar Diaz went to a full count before hitting a two-run single to make the score 14-11. Kazuhiro Sasaki, who came in with 35 saves, gave up a single to Lofton, loading the bases for Vizquel.
Vizquel also worked the count full before ripping his triple just inside the bag, scoring all three.
Oakland 4, Detroit 1--Cory Lidle gave up three hits in eight innings at Detroit to lead the surging Athletics.
Lidle (6-5) gave up one unearned run and one walk to win for the sixth time in seven decisions. He struck out five.
The Tigers have tied a major league record by scoring exactly one run in each of their last five games, all losses. Seven other teams have done it, most recently the 1968 Dodgers.
Jose Lima (3-3) became the latest victim of the Tigers' offensive woes, losing despite giving up two runs and seven hits in eight innings.
Kansas City 10, Minnesota 5--Mike Sweeney thought he would be taking the day off.
Instead, he hit two home runs and drove in five runs to help the Royals avoid being swept at Minneapolis.