CLEVELAND — Ben Francisco smiled, shrugged his shoulders and had no explanation for his success against Tampa Bay right-hander Andy Sonnanstine.
Francisco homered and drove in four runs for Cleveland and the Indians earned their first three-game winning streak of the season by defeating the Rays 12-7 Wednesday night.
"It's a big win for us, to finally get three straight," Francisco said. "We're all feeling confident."
Francisco extended his domination against Sonnanstine (3-5) with a three-run homer and RBI single as Cleveland overcame a 5-0 deficit. On Monday night, the Indians came back from 10-0, beating the Rays with a seven-run ninth inning, 11-10.
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"We gave up two huge leads here and have to do a better job of pitching," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Greg Aquino (1-0) pitched two scoreless innings for the win — Cleveland's sixth in eight games. It was the right-hander's first win since June 19, 2006, for Arizona. Luis Vizcaino worked three scoreless innings for his first save since Sept. 29, 2004, with Milwaukee.
"Those two did a tremendous job running through five innings," Indians manager Eric Wedge said.
The Rays lost their fourth straight for the first time this season and have dropped 16 in a row in Cleveland since a 1-0 win on Sept. 29, 2005. But the Indians are a long way from matching their team record for consecutive home wins over a team. They beat the St. Louis Browns/Baltimore Orioles 27 straight times in Cleveland from 1952-54.
Francisco's three-run homer in Cleveland's five-run second was his third in three at-bats against Sonnanstine this year and fourth straight off the right-hander. Francisco also homered off him in Cleveland on July 10. Francisco is 8 for 9 with five homers and 12 RBIs against the 26-year-old who grew up in Wadsworth, Ohio, about 40 miles southwest of Progressive Field.
"I try not to think about it and don't want to talk about it too much," Francisco said, fearful that he may jinx his streak. "Some guys you just have success against and others you don't."
Maddon can't comprehend why Francisco becomes Babe Ruth when he sees Sonnanstine on the mound.
"I'm sure Andy never wants to see him again," Maddon said. "It's amazing."
Said Sonnanstine: "He's hitting everything I'm throwing. I have to figure a way to get him out."
Cleveland starter Zach Jackson had to wait out a one-hour, 55-minute rain delay before making his first pitch after being called up from Triple-A Columbus. The left-hander trailed 5-0 in 15 minutes.
Tampa Bay sent 10 men to the plate, getting five singles, a double and walk in the first inning.
"Zach, we waited two hours for this, buddy!" a fan yelled from the upper deck midway through the Rays' rally.
Gabe Kapler had a two-run single, Ben Zobrist an RBI double, while Evan Longoria and Willy Aybar each singled home runs.
Ryan Garko singled in Cleveland's first run. Francisco's homer made it 5-4, then Jamey Carroll singled and later scored on Grady Sizemore's double to make it 5-5.
The Rays went ahead 6-5 in the third on Mark DeRosa's two-out throwing error. The third baseman backed up on a grounder hit by Michel Hernandez and his throw in the soggy dirt skipped past first baseman Garko, scoring Zobrist from third.
Francisco's single tied it in the bottom half and Carroll followed by poking an RBI single between first and second to give Cleveland its first lead, 7-6. Asdrubal Cabrera added an RBI single.
Longoria's 12th homer in the fourth got the Rays within 8-7, but the Indians went ahead by five in the fifth on a two-run double by Victor Martinez and Shin-Soo Choo's two-run homer.
Sonnanstine gave up eight hits and nine runs over three innings.
Jackson allowed six earned runs and eight hits over four innings.
The game ended at 12:16 a.m., with the teams scheduled for a 12:05 p.m. start Thursday.
"We have to sleep fast and come back and fight again," Wedge said.
Notes: Tampa Bay is 31-63 against the Indians, including 12-37 in Cleveland. ... Three of Francisco's four career games of four RBIs are against Tampa Bay. ... Longoria's homer was his first in 64 at-bats, the longest drought of his career. ... Indians RHP Joe Smith, sidelined since May 2 with a strained rotator cuff, threw a simulated game and may go to the minors this weekend to begin a rehab assignment. ... Indians DH Travis Hafner, out since April 29 with a sore right shoulder, will return to his rehab assignment with Columbus. He missed three days with a sore back.