COLUMBUS, OHIO - The Indians sent 11 batters to the plate during a five-run seventh inning that propelled Indy to a 5-4 win over Columbus on Thursday night. Christian Kelley and Cole Tucker forced home two runs with consecutive two-out, bases-loaded walks, and JB Shuck added a pinch-hit single to plate two more in the frame.
Indianapolis (45-44) avoided falling below .500 for the first time since May 8 thanks to the five-run inning, the fifth time Indy's reached that number in an inning this season. The inning also marked the first time the Tribe had sent 10 or more batters to the dish in a single frame this year. But the victory didn't come without a major sweat.
Indy's seventh started with a Will Craig walk and Ke'Bryan Hayes followed with a single into center. Kevin Kramer then walked to load the bases with no outs, but two strikeouts nearly let the Clippers escape the jam. Kelley and Tucker's clutch two-out walks put the Tribe on top, and after Shuck dropped his two-run single down the left field line, a passed ball allowed the crucial fifth run to score.
Columbus (55-34) responded after the stretch with three runs off Montana DuRapau, all coming on one big swing by former Indian Max Moroff. The switch-hitting Moroff, who cranked 29 home runs for Indy from 2016-18, launched a three-run homer to right to make it a 5-3 ballgame.
The Clippers crept closer against Dovydas Neverauskas in the eighth on a Yu Chang leadoff homer. Neverauskas issued a walk and surrendered a single after Chang's fourth long ball but eventually escaped further trouble with consecutive strikeouts of Dioner Navarro and Moroff - both looking - to leave the bases loaded.
The drama continued into the ninth. With two top arms already burned, Tribe manager Brian Esposito called upon Jake Brentz (S, 7) for the save. He struck out Adam Rosales to begin the inning but gave up a one-out single to Daniel Johnson, double to Chang and walk to Ryan Flaherty to set up a wild finish. Brentz fell behind Trayce Thompson 3-1 but battled back for a swinging strikeout, and he retired Mark Mathias on a fielder's choice to Tucker at short to seal the one-run triumph.
The late offense came after both teams played scoreless through the first six innings.
Mitch Keller (W, 7-3) was slightly better than his counterpart in the IL West battle, throwing six innings with eight punchouts. Keller ended the second, third, fourth and sixth innings with strikeouts and yielded just two hits and three walks all night. The quality start was his seventh this season for Indy.
Zach Plesac (L, 3-1) was efficient through six innings and had eight strikeouts until the first three Tribe batters in the seventh reached base safely. He finished with nine whiffs but gave up three earned runs on four hits and two walks in his first Triple-A defeat.
Indy improved to 18-13 in one-run games while Columbus fell to 17-7 in one-run affairs.
The Indians and Clippers meet again on Friday at 7:15 p.m. ET. The Tribe will send Eduardo Vera (5-6, 5.53) to the bump against Michael Peoples (5-3, 4.41).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.