CLEVELAND—Matt Carson hit a winning single with two outs in the 11th inning and the Cleveland Indians beat the Houston Astros 2-1 Thursday night to close within a half-game in the AL wild card race.
Yan Gomes singled with one out against Rhiner Cruz (0-2), and Asdrubal Cabrera reached on an infield single, beating the throw after third baseman Marwin Gonzalez charged and barehanded his slow roller.
Trevor Crowe caught Michael Brantley’s liner to center and nearly doubled Gomes off second, and Mike Aviles loaded the bases with a walk.
Carson hit a grounder under the glove of second baseman Jose Altuve for Cleveland’s 10th walkoff win this season.
Tampa Bay and Texas (83-69) are tied for the two wild cards.
Cleveland (83-70), trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007, has three more games against the major league-worst Astros (51-102), who have had seven losing streaks of six games or more. The Indians then host the Chicago White Sox for two games and finish with four at Minnesota.
Bryan Shaw (5-3) pitched the 11th for the win.
The Astros not only came to town with a five-game losing streak, they were also weary. The players checked into their downtown Cleveland hotel at 6:30 a.m. following a 13-inning home game Wednesday night. Houston lost to Cincinnati 6-5 at Minute Maid Park in a contest that lasted 5 hours, 13 minutes.
The Indians’ playoff chase hasn’t caught on with Cleveland fans, with only 12,607 fans in attendance Thursday night.
Both teams missed scoring chances in the ninth. Chris Perez worked out of a base-loaded jam in the top half. Marc Krauss led off with a one-out double, his third hit of the night. Perez then hit Matt Dominguez on the left hand with the first pitch. Perez and Indians manager Terry Francona argued that the pitch hit Dominguez’s bat, but home plate umpire Dale Scott disagreed.
Chris Carter walked on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases, but Brett Wallace struck out for the fourth time on the night and L.J. Hoes also whiffed to end the inning.
Brantley walked with one out in the bottom of the ninth, but was thrown out trying to steal second. After Aviles walked, Jason Giambi batted for Drew Stubbs. The 42-year-old veteran lined a 1-1 pitch from Josh Zeid into the right field corner that was foul by a couple of feet. Giambi then popped out to end the inning.
A baserunning blunder by pinch runner Jake Elmore ended Houston’s scoring threat in the 10th. Cody Clark led off with a double, but Elmore was picked off second by the catcher Gomes on the first pitch to Jonathan Villa. Cody Allen retired the next two hitters.
Ubaldo Jimenez allowed one run and struck out nine in seven innings. The right-hander has fanned 59 in his last 47 innings. Dallas Keuchel matched Jimenez, also allowing one run with seven strikeouts in seven innings.
The Indians were coming off a 5-2 road trip, sweeping four games in Chicago before losing two of three in Kansas City.
Jason Kipnis, snapping an 0-for-11 slump, gave Cleveland the lead with an RBI single in the first. Hoes tied the game with a sacrifice fly in the second.
Nick Swisher, who matched a career high with four hits, started the first-inning rally with a one-out double and scored when Kipnis, who was 4 for 21 on Cleveland’s road trip, lined a hit to center.
Houston loaded the bases on three singles with nobody out in the second, but scored only once. After Jimenez struck out Brett Wallace, Hoes’ fly ball to right was deep enough to Krauss. Cody Clark laid down a bunt but was thrown out by Jimenez.
Kipnis’ problems at the plate continued when he hit into double plays in the third and sixth, both following singles by Swisher. He reached on a bloop single in the seventh.
Krauss also matched a career high with three hits.
NOTES: RHP Justin Masterson (strained left oblique) will throw a bullpen session for the first time since being injured on Friday. It’s still uncertain if he will return this season. Masterson was injured on Sept. 2 ... OF Trevor Crowe, the Indians’ No. 1 pick in 2005, batted third and played center field for the Astros. ... Cleveland 3B coach Brad Mills managed the Astros from 2010-2012 before being fired late last season. ... Indians RHP Zach McAllister (8-9) takes on Astros LHP Brett Oberholtzer (4-3) in the second game of the four-game series Friday.