CLEVELAND -- A contents label on Game 1 of the AL division series playoff between Boston and Cleveland would read something like this: Rain, 13 innings, comebacks, more rain, a corked-bat controversy, 14 pitchers, heroics, heroic failures.
The Cleveland Indians won one of the most bizarre games in postseason history, 5-4, the winning run scoring at 2:08 a.m., on a bases-empty homer by Tony Pena. Boston sluggers Mo Vaughn and Jose Canseco combined to go 0-for-12, with four strikeouts between them.
The Indians, down 4-3 in the 11th, tied the game on a bases-empty homer by Albert Belle, whose immediate reward was having his bat confiscated for alleged corking. Cleveland blew a bases-loaded chance in the 12th.
But with two outs in the bottom of the 13th, Pena crushed a 3-0 pitch from Boston left-hander Zane Smith, maintaining the Indians' perfect record in extra innings this year. The Indians are 14-0 in extra innings.
The Red Sox took a 4-3 lead in the top of the 11th, when third baseman Tim Naehring bashed Jim Poole's hanging 0-2 curve over the left-field fence.
But in the bottom of the inning Belle hammered a 2-2 pitch from Red Sox closer Rick Aguilera into the left-field seats, tying the score. As Belle circled the bases, Red Sox manager Kevin Kennedy called to home-plate umpire Tim Welke to check Belle's bat, the inference clear: Look for cork. Last year, Belle was suspended for corking his bat.
As Welke removed the bat, Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove came out of the dugout to argue, and as he departed, he pointed a finger and screamed at Kennedy. Belle yelled, too, from the Indians dugout, jabbing a finger into his flexed right biceps. That's where the power came from, he was saying, in so many words.
Jim Thome singled with one out, and as Aguilera pitched to Manny Ramirez on a mound turned muddy by the rain, the Red Sox reliever slipped as he delivered a pitch. He reached to grab his upper right thigh, apparently having strained a muscle. After LTC throwing several warm-up pitchers, Aguilera stayed in the game. Ramirez struck out, but Paul Sorrento singled.
Aguilera threw two pitches to Tony Pena before he left with a noticeable limp. Mike Maddux relieved and retired Pena on a grounder, sending the game into the 12th.
The Indians loaded the bases with one out in the 12th, but Eddie Murray grounded into a forceout at home and Thome rolled to first, killing the rally.
The Indians and Red Sox battled back and forth all game, Boston taking an early lead for Roger Clemens, before the Indians fought back.
With two outs and Boston's Dwayne Hosey on first in the third inning, Dennis Martinez threw a fastball high and away to shortstop John Valentin, who hit the ball high and away, over the right-field wall.
The Red Sox led 2-0, and the way Clemens was throwing -- along the edges, lots of strikes -- the sort of scenario that Boston needs to beat the heavily favored Indians was beginning to develop.
The Indians' first hit didn't come until the fourth inning, when Kenny Lofton pulled an off-speed pitch into right field for a single. Omar Vizquel flied weakly to right, but after a prolonged battle with Clemens, Cleveland second baseman Carlos Baerga plopped a single into short left, a flare over shortstop.
Belle, his torso so pronounced that he looks as if he wears shoulder pads under his uniform, walked to the plate, some fans chanting "MVP, MVP." Belle hit his 50th homer Sunday, to go along with 52 doubles. One bad pitch by Clemens, and Belle could put up three runs immediately.
Clemens fell behind, two balls and one strike, and came back with a strike. Two and two. The pitch came out of Clemens' hand straight, headed for the middle of the plate -- until it dove. A north-to-south forkball, and Belle waved at it, looking foolish. Murray grounded out to second, ending the inning, and Clemens would take that two-run lead into the sixth inning.
Well into the sixth, in fact. Two outs and nobody on base, and Clemens walked shortstop Omar Vizquel -- a sin committed repeatedly by the Orioles this year, allowing the weak-hitting Vizquel to reach base ahead of the boomers in the Indians'
With Baerga batting, Vizquel broke for second, and as Valentin moved laterally to cover the base, Baerga reached out and slapped a grounder to the vacated area.
Once again, Clemens had to figure a way to pitch around Belle.
He threw a fastball for a strike, came back with another and . . . whack. Belle, whose line drives seem to have a unique intensity, ripped a ball between left fielder Mike Greenwell and center fielder Lee Tinsley, to the wall.
Vizquel would score, but whether Baerga could get home with the tying run, that was another question.
Valentin's relay throw beat him home -- but the ball skidded on the hop, bouncing into the heel of Mike Macfarlane's glove.