CLEVELAND (AP) — Poor defense and sloppy late baserunning proved costly to the Cleveland Indians on Friday night.
First baseman Carlos Santana and catcher Roberto Perez committed throwing errors in the ninth inning, leading to four unearned runs that gave the Houston Astros a 5-1 win.
The Indians have made a major league-high 99 errors, which is one more than they made in all of 2013 while advancing to the playoffs. Despite those fielding woes, Cleveland entered the night 4 1-2 games out of the final American League wild-card spot.
"If we want to stay in this thing, we're going to have to play a lot cleaner," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Losing is one thing, but losing like that is another. Obviously, we need to do better. We can't play like that and expect to win."
Cleveland had an opportunity to break a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the eighth, putting two on with no outs against Astros left-hander Tony Sipp (4-2).
Mike Aviles led off with a single and rookie Tyler Holt reached on an attempted sacrifice bunt, but Aviles wandered off second base and was thrown out with Perez batting. Holt, who advanced to second when Aviles was caught in a rundown, subsequently was out stealing third during the same at-bat.
"Mike was too aggressive and got caught in no-man's land," Francona said. "With Tyler, the thing is you've got to be pretty sure you can make it if you try to steal at that point. With youth comes youthful mistakes, but they aren't always easy."
Indians closer Cody Allen (4-3) started the ninth and came unglued after a one-out walk to Chris Carter. Santana fielded Dexter Fowler's ground ball at first, but his throw to second sailed into left field, allowing Carter to reach third.
When Fowler tried to steal second, Perez threw wildly, allowing the go-ahead run to score. Allen later gave up a three-run homer to Jon Singleton.
"Things like that are just something that happens in baseball," said Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco, who allowed one run in six innings and struck out a season-high eight. "We'll come back and get them tomorrow."
Carrasco had his 16-inning scoreless streak snapped when Marwin Gonzalez homered in the fifth. In three outings since returning the rotation, he is 2-0 with a 0.50 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 18 innings.
"Carlos has been a real bright spot," Francona said.
Rookie Zach Walters hit a solo homer for Cleveland, giving him five in 10 games since being acquired from Washington on July 31.
All-Star left fielder Michael Brantley went 0 for 4 and is in a 2-for-26 slump.
BO KNOWS FOOTBALL
Astros manager Bo Porter, who played football at the University of Iowa, has been following the Cleveland Browns since they drafted Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel in May. "I'd like to be on the sideline giving 'Johnny Football' advice before he goes in," Porter joked. "But you want to talk about an experience, go to a Cleveland Browns game. Those fans are crazy and, man, do they love their team."
RHP Corey Kluber absorbed his first loss since June 30 by allowing three runs in seven innings Thursday at Minnesota. Despite the defeat, Kluber is 4-1 with a 1.15 ERA in seven starts since the All-Star break. "It wasn't quite Kluber-esque," Francona said. "Saying that, if that's the worst of Corey, we're in pretty good shape."
Indians C Yan Gomes (concussion) took part in some light pregame activity but there is no timetable for his return. Gomes was injured Thursday when he was hit in the mask by a pitch that deflected off Minnesota's Kurt Suzuki.
Indians RHP Danny Salazar (4-6) takes on Astros RHP Collin McHugh (6-9) in the second game of the three-game series Saturday. Salazar, who has never faced Houston, has a 4-1 record when he pitches at least five innings this season.