CLEVELAND -- The streak got soggy. It wasn't washed away.
Fausto Carmona allowed one hit -- an infield single -- in five dominant innings as the Cleveland Indians extended their inexplicable home winning streak over Tampa Bay to 18 straight, beating the Rays 3-1 on a rain-soaked Friday night in a game called in the bottom of the seventh.The Rays haven't won in Cleveland since Sept. 28, 2005, when Lou Piniella was their manager and they still had a devilish nickname."It is kind of remarkable," Indians manager Manny Acta said.Tampa Bay's losing streak in Progressive Field is the longest current one in the majors, and the lengthiest since Milwaukee won 22 in a row over Pittsburgh at Miller Park from 2007-10.Rays manager Joe Maddon can't figure out his team's Cleveland curse."We don't play well here," he said. "Why? I have no idea. Obviously, we want to change that."Carmona (10-7) was lifted following a 1-hour, 30-minute rain delay between the fifth and sixth innings. The All-Star, though, made the most of his weather-shortened outing and continued his impressive turnaround following a pitiful 2009 season.Trevor Crowe homered and Tony Sipp got his first career save for the Indians, who are 7-1 since the All-Star break.Jeff Niemann (8-3) wasn't able to lift Tampa Bay's mind-boggling hex in Cleveland. He allowed two runs and five hits in five innings.The game was stopped after five innings when heavy rains came off Lake Erie and swept through downtown Cleveland. Play was resumed 90 minutes later, but umpires called for the tarp in the bottom of the seventh after the teams had played for 36 minutes.At 11:57 p.m., crew chief Mike Everitt made it official, ending a game that lasted just 2:06 with 2:44 in stoppages."They [umpires] felt that it wasn't going to go away," Acta said. "They figured it was here to stay and they couldn't wait any longer."Maddon didn't mind the first delay."I liked it," he said. "Getting Carmona out of the game was pretty good for us."Sipp, though, came on and struck out three in two hitless innings."It looked like we had a chance to come back," Maddon said. "But the weather didn't cooperate. It was against us too."Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford returned to the lineup after missing two games. He was struck in the groin area by a pickoff throw on Tuesday in Baltimore. Crawford went 0 for 3.Cleveland's Shin-Soo Choo played for the first time since spraining his right thumb on July 2. Choo, who drove in the Indians' second run, was tested right away in the outfield. On the game's fourth pitch, Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist hit a drive to deep right that Choo caught before crashing into the padded wall."He got a little bloody nose, but he's OK," Acta said. "The ball is going to find you when you come off the disabled list."Carmona mastered the Rays during his rain-shortened stint. He allowed one unearned run and matched a season-high with seven strikeouts. He has won his last three starts, four of his past five and has doubled his entire win total from last season, when the Indians sent him to the lower minor leagues to work on his mechanics and makeup.The Rays got their only hit off the right-hander in the third. Reid Brignac hit a grounder toward right field that second baseman Jason Donald stopped with a dive on the outfield grass. Donald scrambled to his feet, but his throw to first was too late to get the rookie infielder.The Rays weren't exactly exuding confidence that they would end their nearly five-year-old winless drought in Cleveland. A message scrawled on the dry-erase board inside Tampa Bay's clubhouse summed up the club's inability to win at Progressive Field."There will be no pitchers' meeting," the note said. "It doesn't work here."Nothing seems to.Cleveland took a 2-1 lead in the third. Michael Brantley singled leading off, went to third on Asdrubal Cabrera's double and scored on Choo's grounder to second.The Indians scored in the first when Carlos Santana brought in Brantley on a fielder's choice grounder, but the Rays tied it with an unearned run in the second.Throwing errors by Donald and Santana allowed Carlos Pena to get to third, where he scored on John Jaso's groundout.
The record road losing streak is held by the St. Louis Browns/Baltimore Orioles, who lost 27 straight games in Cleveland from Aug. 13, 1952 to Aug. 15, 1954. ... Crawford needs one triple to become the 12th player to hit 100 before his 29th birthday. The last to do it was Hall of Famer Stan Musial. ... Santa Claus threw out the ceremonial first pitch -- a slow snowball that was delivered by his elves -- as the Indians celebrated Christmas in July. ... During the first rain delay, fans watched the 1960s TV classic "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" on the ballpark's giant scoreboard.