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Sports

Birds help Indians

June 12, 2009

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Kansas City Royals pitcher Zack Greinke delivers to Cleveland Indians’ Mark DeRosa in the first inning. The Royals lost, 4-3 in 10 innings, Thursday in Cleveland.

Kansas City Royals pitcher Zack Greinke delivers to Cleveland Indians’ Mark DeRosa in the first inning. The Royals lost, 4-3 in 10 innings, Thursday in Cleveland.

— Coco Crisp thought he had a chance to get to Shin-Soo Choo’s line drive. Instead, a bird beat him to it.

The ball flattened a low-flying gull in the 10th inning and rolled past Kansas City’s center fielder and Mark DeRosa scored from second base to give the Cleveland Indians a 4-3 victory over the Royals on Thursday night.

“Crazy things happen in this game,” Crisp said after Choo’s line single over the second-base bag clipped the wing of one of hundreds of birds that buzz the ballpark. “It was hit so sharply, I felt like I had a chance,” Crisp said. “You never know what the heck is going to happen.”

The stunned bird flopped around for a few seconds before finally flying off.

Just another wild win at Progressive Field.

“I didn’t see it, but I’ll take it,” Choo said.

Two years ago, a swarm of bugs rattled New York Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain in the AL division series, helping the Indians rally.

The bugs, common near the lakefront in late spring, returned a few weeks ago, and for the past few weeks, flocks of gulls have flown around feeding off them, as well as scraps of food tossed by fans.

DeRosa opened the inning with a single off Kyle Farnsworth (1-4) — his third single along with two walks in five times up.

Victor Martinez then walked and Choo lined a 1-0 pitch over second and off the gull. The collision changed the ball’s path just enough to redirect it past Crisp all the way to the wall as DeRosa scored easily and the Indians mobbed Choo to celebrate the win.

Cleveland moved out of last place in the AL Central, a half game ahead of the Royals, who have lost 23 of 30 since leading the division by three games on May 7.

“If we don’t make errors the first day and today, we should sweep this series,” Royals manager Trey Hillman said after Kansas City committed two errors on one play that helped Cleveland come back from a 3-1 deficit.

Royals starter Zack Greinke, coming off his worst start of the season, allowed three runs and six hits over 71⁄3 innings — matching his season-high pitch count at 116.

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