CLEVELAND -- The comeback began with a grueling plate appearance by Jose Ramirez in the ninth inning. It ended in extras with a Greg Allen walk-off home run on Sunday that set off a wild on-field celebration in what could go down as one of the most important victories of the season for the Indians.
After another rough afternoon for Cleveland's bullpen, the team's lineup did not relent, coming back twice to propel the Tribe to a 10-9 win over the Astros in 14 innings. The improbable victory allowed the Indians to salvage a split in the four-game series with the reigning World Series champions.
"What a roller coaster of emotions, right?" Indians starter Trevor Bauer said with a smile.
The decisive blow from Allen came on the first pitch he saw from Brad Peacock -- the seventh Astros reliever used -- on the 451st pitch of the game. It was the rookie outfielder's first homer of the year and the first walk-off blast of his career. Allen said he had never delivered a walkoff of any kind at any level.
When the ball left Allen's bat, right fielder George Springer took a couple steps to his left before making a right turn to exit the field. Allen gave a hard clap of his hands as he tore around first, and then got a good view of the awaiting mob of teammates as he rounded third base.
"I'm hoping I don't get roughed up too much in there," Allen said with a laugh. "But, I'll take it. It was definitely something special, something I'll remember forever. And again, at the end of the day, I'm just glad we were able to pull that one out."
When Allen reached the plate, he tossed away his helmet before being drenched with water and pounded with celebratory jabs.
That shot came in the wake of a game-tying homer from Yonder Alonso in the 13th and a ninth inning that included RBI hits from Alonso, Jason Kipnis, Erik Gonzalez, Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley. The last two in that sequence came with two outs, bringing Ramirez to the plate with two runners aboard. It was Ramirez, whose epic 17-pitch at-bat opened the ninth, who got the rally rolling against closer Ken Giles.
Two batters and two hits later, Giles was out of the game and the Astros were unexpectedly forced to cycle through more of their 'pen.
"There are so many things that go into that," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Ramirez's battle with Giles. "That was an incredible at-bat. It changed the whole inning, because they ended up having to go to the bullpen, just because of the pitch count. There was a lot of things that happened that were incredible, or we don't win."
In his second trip to the plate in the ninth, Ramirez pulled a pitch from Hector Rondon up the first-base line with an exit velocity of 102.3 mph. For a moment, it looked like the Tribe third baseman had delivered a walk-off hit to right, but first baseman Yuli Gurriel used an all-out dive to snare the baseball before it could find the ground.
Asked if he was happy to see Allen be the one to fill the role of hero, Francona chuckled.
"I didn't care who it was," Francona said. "But that was pretty cool."
The late comeback effectively cancelled out a six-run eighth inning for the Astros, who pounced on the Tribe's struggling 'pen after Bauer's exit. Over 7 1/3 innings, Bauer struck out 13, walked two and was charged with four runs. Before the bullpen tacked two runs on Bauer's line in the eighth, he gave up a solo homer to Max Stassi in the second and an RBI double to Jose Altuve in the sixth.
Gerrit Cole went seven innings, in which he gave up three runs on four hits, with eight strikeouts and a pair of walks. All of the Tribe's damage came in the first two frames against the righty, who limited Cleveland to a 1-for-14 showing over his final five innings. Two of the runs came in the first courtesy of Ramirez's 15th homer of the year.
"This is one of those games you hope gives your team some personality," Francona said. "I know our bullpen wasn't perfect, but we found a way to win and those are the types of wins that I think really propel your team down the road."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Calling the 'pen: Francona tried to get as much as he could out of Bauer, allowing the pitcher to log 127 pitches into the eighth. After Bauer allowed a double to Springer and walked Alex Bregman to start that inning, Evan Marshall entered for the Tribe and -- in a span of eight pitches -- allowed three straight RBI singles. Ben Taylor, who was called up from Triple-A Columbus along with Marshall on Saturday, then yielded a three-run homer to Evan Gattis that put Cleveland behind, 8-3.
"Trevor pitched his heart out," Francona said. "If we'd have had an open base, we were going to walk Altuve and let Trevor pitch. But, when it was first and second, golly, man, it just didn't seem fair to ask him to do that."
Bauer appreciated the chance to keep pitching.
"I really appreciated it," Bauer said. "Then, that whole at-bat to Bregman, I was tired. I tried to pick off the corner on a 3-2 two-seam and just yanked it. I held my stuff the whole time. I was very thankful for him sending me back out."
Trading blows: In the 13th inning, Gattis tried to put an end to the marathon with a two-out solo shot off Dan Otero, who watched the pitch clank into the left-field bleacher seats. Cleveland had an answer once again, as Alonso belted a solo blast of his own off Collin McHugh to pull the game into a 9-9 deadlock in the home half of the frame.
Bauer's escape: Moments after Astros manager AJ Hinch was ejected during a heated exchange with home-plate umpire Tony Randazzo in the sixth inning, Bauer surrendered the RBI double to Altuve, who took third on the play. With the tying run 90 feet from home, the Cleveland pitcher responded by striking out both Carlos Correa and Gurriel to escape further damage in the crucial frame.
Brantley's leadoff single in the third extended his hitting streak to 16 games, marking the longest active streak in the Majors. It is the longest run for the Tribe outfielder since his 22-game streak in 2012. Brantley's streak is the longest by a Tribe batter since '16 (Ramirez, 18 games; Mike Napoli, 16 games).
HE SAID IT
"It was kind of like old times in the sense that at [UCLA] he would pitch Friday and then I would go and try to one-up him. Today, he would pitch one inning and then I would pitch an inning and then back and forth -- I don't want to speak for him, obviously -- trying to one-up each other. And, ultimately, I think it turned out the best way possible. I don't think he deserved to lose. I don't think I deserved to lose. We both pitched great, both were super competitive, just a fun matchup for everybody involved." --Bauer, on facing Cole
"The fact that the resiliency that the team showed right there, obviously, you could see, it was pretty infectious, starting with Josey's at-bat. Him grinding that out, that set the table for the rest to come. -- Allen, on Ramirez's 17-pitch at-bat in the 9th
"It's a really bad feeling. If you weren't competing against him, it's fun to watch. But, he hits everything and it's not a good feeling." -- Francona, on Altuve, who set an Astros club record with 10 hits in 10 straight at-bats between Friday and Sunday
Adam Plutko (2-0, 2.03 ERA) will make his third start of the season on Monday, when the Indians open a three-game series against the White Sox in a 4:10 p.m. ET tilt at Progressive Field. Plutko flirted with a no-hitter in a win over the Cubs on Wednesday at Wrigley Field. The White Sox will counter with Dylan Covey (1-1, 3.46 ERA).