Once Ubaldo Jimenez got through the fifth without allowing a hit, he began thinking back to his no-hitter at Atlanta in April 2010.
He couldn’t help it. Jimenez walked six batters that day.
He carried a no-hit bid into the sixth Saturday night, backed by home runs from Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn as the Cleveland Indians beat the Oakland Athletics 7-1.
Jimenez (9-7) didn’t allow a hit until Josh Donaldson lined a run-scoring single to shallow center with two out in the sixth, ending the pitcher’s night after 105 pitches. He struck out eight and walked five.
“Since I got in the fifth inning, it brought a lot of good memories of my no-hitter in Atlanta,” Jimenez said. “Especially when I walked six guys in that no-hitter.”
Asdrubal Cabrera drove in two runs and Michael Brantley hit a pair of doubles for Cleveland.
A day after the Indians matched a season high with 13 stranded base runners, they took advantage of timely opportunities.
Swisher drove the first pitch from Dan Straily over the right-field fence for his 13th home run, staking Jimenez to an early lead in the first. Cabrera later added a run-scoring single before hitting an RBI double in the sixth.
Pitching on six days’ rest, Jimenez bounced back after taking a 7-2 loss to the Angels on Aug. 10 for his second straight defeat.
He hoped he could have talked manager Terry Francona into staying in the game if he’d kept the no-hitter going into the seventh.
“We established the fastball in the first inning,” he said. “It’s not like I was wild. I was pretty much close in the strike zone. ... I wanted to get out of the sixth inning without (more) damage.”
The A’s drew two walks from the right-hander in each of the third and fourth innings but failed to capitalize.
Jimenez plunked Josh Reddick in the right shoulder with one out in the sixth and Rich Hill began warming up in the bullpen. Jimenez walked Yoenis Cespedes on his 101st pitch and received a mound visit from pitching coach Mickey Callaway.
Brandon Moss then struck out swinging before Donaldson singled.
The A’s didn’t do much more.
“Jimenez was at times effectively wild today,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “He does have good stuff, he does have a lot of different pitches that you have to worry about. He walked some guys but we couldn’t square him up.”
Coco Crisp flied out as a pinch-hitter with runners on the corners to end the eighth.
Bourn’s seventh-inning drive ended an 0-for-11 stretch for just his second hit in 21 at-bats during the team’s road trip.
Swisher added an RBI single and Jason Kipnis a two-run single in the ninth as the Indians won for the fifth time in the first six meetings with the A’s after sweeping a four-game set at home in May.
“To put up seven runs on a team like that, that’s doing something,” Swisher said. “We got a lot of contributions from a lot of guys ... adding on runs every inning and not just getting up early and coasting.”
Straily (6-7) extended his losing streak to five games. He is winless in six outings since being recalled from Triple-A Sacramento on July 20, though he had received no run support in three of those outings since the All-Star break.
He allowed three runs and six hits, struck out seven and matched his season high with four walks over 5 2-3 innings.
Straily allowed Swisher’s one-out homer then struck out Kipnis before allowing back-to-back walks to Carlos Santana and Brantley. Pitching coach Curt Young made a mound visit when he went 2-0 to Cabrera, who then hit an RBI single to snap an 0-for-20 streak.
After Drew Stubbs doubled to start the Cleveland fifth, Gold Glove right fielder Reddick started a sensational double play when he caught Bourn’s liner and made the perfect throw to third to get Stubbs.
The sold-out Coliseum crowd of 35,067 booed former A’s fan favorites Swisher and Jason Giambi whenever they came to the plate.
“That’s crazy, man,” Swisher said. “Me and G. both. I don’t get it, it is what it is.”
Cespedes went 1 for 3 with a walk on a day fans arrived more than four hours early to get his bobblehead.