CLEVELAND (Reuters) - Battling through a lengthy rain delay and a 14-inning duel between two stingy bullpens, the Cleveland Indians eked out a 3-2 decision in their American League Central matchup with the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday.
Cleveland outfielder Kosuke Fukudome was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 14th to bring home the winning run, a most unlikely ending to a game dominated by relief pitching.
A combined 15 pitchers were used by the two division rivals before the Indians (57-56) earned a victory that trimmed their AL Central deficit to three games behind the first-place Tigers (61-54).
"This is the longest game I've been a part of and it's certainly one of the most important, given the circumstances of playing the Tigers," Cleveland reliever Vinnie Pestano told reporters after witnessing almost seven hours of action.
"We were just going back and forth and back and forth. This is a big win for us."
The game was tied at 2-2 through two innings when rain delayed the action for more than two hours and sent both starting pitchers to the bench.
When play resumed, the bullpens took center stage as each side pitched 11 consecutive scoreless innings before Cleveland broke through against losing pitcher David Pauley (5-5).
Cleveland's Asdrubal Cabrera drew a one-out walk, and Travis Hafner singled before an intentional walk set the stage for Fukudome to take the blow that became a walk-off RBI.
"It was kind of anti-climactic," said Indians winning pitcher Frank Herrmann, who tossed the final two innings.
"But I don't think anybody wanted a re-do there. We were all happy with it."
Doug Fister, making his second start on the mound for the Tigers since being acquired in a trade, allowed two runs in the first inning but Detroit quickly struck back with a pair of runs in the second.
Cabrera finished 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI for the Indians.
Miguel Cabrera had two hits for the Tigers as the two teams are set to play the second of their critical three-game series in a matter of hours.
(Reporting by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien)