CLEVELAND Swat! Take that, New York Yankees.
Helped by a freakish invasion of bombarding bugs that rattled rookie reliever Joba Chamberlain in the eighth inning, the Cleveland Indians rallied to beat the Yankees 2-1 in 11 innings Friday night to take a 2-0 lead in their AL playoff series.
Travis Hafner's bases-loaded, RBI single with two outs in the 11th scored Kenny Lofton with the winner.
Lunacy. Surreal. Hitchcockian. Call it whatever you'd like. October baseball has rarely witnessed anything close to it.
After Chamberlain's wild pitch in the eighth gave Cleveland the tying run, the Indians won it.
Lofton, a gnat-like nuisance to the Yankees so far in this series, walked on four pitches to lead off the 11th against Luis Vizcaino. Franklin Gutierrez failed twice to get down a sacrifice before hitting a single.
Casey Blake moved the runners up with a bunt before the Yankees walked Grady Sizemore to load the bases. Rookie Asdrubal Cabrera missed his chance at being a hero by popping up right in front of the plate.
Seconds later, the Indians were swarming Hafner.
Cleveland's designated hitter lined a single on a 3-2 pitch to right-center making Cleveland 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position and was mobbed by his teammates as an exhausted crowd of 44,732 towel-waving fans celebrated a win they'll talk about for years to come.
A day after the Indians slugged their way to a 12-3 win, Fausto Carmona and the Yankees' Andy Pettitte put pitching back into the series.
New York finished with just three hits, all off Carmona during his nine spectacular innings. Rafael Perez went two innings for the win.
Game 3 will be Sunday at Yankee Stadium, with Jake Westbrook trying to pitch Cleveland to a sweep against Roger Clemens.
The final four innings were like a low-budget, late-night horror flick. Call it: The Bugs Who Ate The Yankees.
Chamberlain, the wildly popular 22-year-old, came in for Pettitte in the seventh with runners at first and second. He struck out pinch-hitter Gutierrez and got Blake on a soft fly to right to keep the Yankees up 1-0.
That's when everyone started buggin' out.
Chamberlain needed to be sprayed with repellant before taking the mound in the eighth as the pesky insects descended upon the ballpark on another muggy fall night. Chamberlain wasn't alone, either, as Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and the rest of the Yankees infielders waved their gloves and caps in front of their faces to keep the little pests off them.
Chamberlain walked Grady Sizemore to open the eighth, and with the bugs sticking to his muscular, sweaty neck, the right-hander threw a wild pitch before asking for another dose of spray. Plate umpire Laz Diaz, who also was under attack, consented and watched as Chamberlain held out his arms as if he was going through an airport security scan as a trainer sprayed him down.
Cabrera sacrificed before Hafner lined out to first. Then, on a 1-0 pitch to Victor Martinez, Chamberlain uncorked another wild pitch that went all the way to the backstop before caroming directly to catcher Jorge Posada.
With Sizemore barreling down the line, Posada quickly shoveled the ball to a charging Chamberlain, who was upended at the plate by the Indians leadoff man, a former high school football star.
With Chamberlain spitting out the critters like they were sunflower seeds, the giant scoreboard flashed: Bug off Yankees!
The pests have visited before, usually earlier in the summer.
They're called midges.
The Yankees and their hardcore fans will forever call them something much less polite.