Matsuzaka throws three shutout innings in victory
Swisher hits second spring homer; Perez's homer in 9th the game-winner
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Daisuke Matsuzaka strengthened his bid for the fifth spot in Cleveland's starting rotation with three shutout innings on Tuesday as the Indians outlasted the San Francisco Giants, 4-3, in a Cactus League game.
Pinch-hitter Roberto Perez homered in the ninth inning to break a 3-3 tie and give the Indians the victory.
Matsuzaka yielded five hits but didn't walk a batter. The right-hander was twice aided by inning-ending double plays. After the Giants loaded the bases with one out in the first, Brandon Belt flied out to left field. Kensuke Tanaka tagged at third and tried to score on the play and was thrown out at the plate easily by Ryan Raburn. One inning later, Matsuzaka coaxed Hector Sanchez's comebacker and started a double play.
"It's something that tends to happen when I pitch," Matsuzaka said through an interpreter, referring to the difficulty he endured. "I understand that's part of how I pitch. It's not ideal, but it's something that I always think about when I'm out the mound. Whenever I get runners on, it's always important to think about how to get out of those jams and situations. There was a lot of luck today on my side, but it was important that I got out of those jams."
Cleveland jumped ahead 2-0 on Luis Hernandez's second-inning RBI single off Giants starter Madison Bumgarner and Juan Diaz's fourth-inning home run off veteran reliever Ramon Ramirez. The Giants pulled even against reliever Joe Smith in the fourth inning on Brandon Crawford's two-run homer, which followed Francisco Peguero's two-out single.
The teams kept trading homers. Cleveland regained the lead as Nick Swisher christened the fifth inning with his second spring homer, a drive to right field off Jake Dunning, before Brandon Belt, the hottest-hitting Giant, drilled his third spring homer in the sixth. Belt has 12 hits in his last 25 Cactus League at-bats.
Up next for Indians: Opening Day starter Justin Masterson is scheduled to work four innings on Wednesday, when the Indians host the Dodgers in a Cactus League contest at 3:05 p.m. ET at Goodyear Ballpark. Bullpen hopefuls Rich Hill, Nick Hagadone and Scott Barnes are also slated to pitch for the Tribe. Los Angeles will counter with lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu. A live webcast of the game will be available on Indians.com.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.