Jerry Willard hit a one-out, two-run homer in the ninth inning, capping a comeback from an eighth-inning 5-0 deficit and giving the Indians a 7-5 victory over California yesterday in Cleveland that kept the Angels from taking over sole possession of first place in the AL West.
California remained tied with Kansas City, which lost to Minnesota, 5-3. California and Kansas City -- which both lost on Friday night, too -- have eight games apiece remaining, four against each other starting Monday at Kansas City.
"It smarts. We had the thing counted up. I don't want to talk about it much more because it's too painful," California Manager Gene Mauch said.
Brook Jacoby led off the Cleveland ninth by reaching on shortstop Dick Schofield's error. George Vukovich was safe on a fielder's choice. Willard then homered off Stewart Cliburn (9-3).
The Angels' Don Sutton, bidding for his 296th career win, pitched seven shutout innings, striking out three to give him at least 100 strikeouts for 20 straight seasons. He left with a 5-0 lead, but Donnie Moore lost it in the eighth.
"I thought he (Sutton) was breezing. I thought he'd go all the way," said Moore, who took a 1.55 ERA into the game. "But they called the bullpen and said if I got loose, I'd be in. I was kind of surprised. I was lousy -- no excuses."
In the eighth, Vukovich hit his sixth homer. Carmen Castillo, Tony Bernazard and Julio Franco singled to cut the lead to 5-2. Andre Thornton followed with his 20th homer. It gave Thornton 65 RBI in his last 71 games.