CLEVELAND'S baseball team never quits and recovers from 12-run deficit to beat Seattle

Monday, August 6th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CLEVELAND (AP) _ Although the baseball record book says it's happened twice before in 90 years, the Cleveland Indians staged a comeback that seemed utterly improbable.

Down to their final strike three times, the Indians tied a major league record and became the first team since 1925 to overcome a 12-run deficit and win, defeating the Seattle Mariners 15-14 in 11 innings Sunday night.

``That comeback was one of the best I've ever been around,'' said Indians manager Charlie Manuel. ``The biggest message is you never get down, you never give up. Keep swinging.''

Jolbert Cabrera's broken-bat, one-out single in the 11th scored Kenny 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 was embarrassed,'' Manuel said of his team's early deficit. ``I was like, you gotta be kidding me.''

But Cleveland kept chipping away.

The Indians scored two runs in the fourth inning, three in the seventh, four in the eighth and five in the ninth _ after being down to their last strike three times _ to become just 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 Cleveland 17-15.

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.

They refused to leave as the stadium speakers first blasted Kiss' ``Rock and Roll All Night'', followed by ``Cleveland Rocks.''

``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.''

The Mariners couldn't talk, either.

``We had them down with two outs in the ninth,'' manager Lou Piniella said, ``and they came back and tied it. It's just one of those things that happens.

``It's almost impossible to do, but they did it.''