CLEVELAND (AP) — Terry Francona knows style points don't matter when a team is chasing a playoff spot.
Even though Thursday night's 2-1 win over Houston took 11 innings and featured several twists and turns, the Cleveland Indians manager wasn't about to be picky.
"We'll take any win any way we can get it," he said.
Matt Carson hit a winning single with two outs and the bases loaded and the Indians closed within a half-game in the AL wild card race. The fact the heroics came from an unlikely source made the victory even more special. Carson has spent most of his 12-year career in the minors, but came through at a crucial moment.
"That's the pinnacle for me at this point in my career," said Carson, who was called up from Triple-A Columbus on Aug. 28.
"That's nice to see," Francona said. "He spent the whole year at Triple-A, and comes up here and impacts the major league team. It's rewarding to see a kid get rewarded like that."
Yan Gomes singled with one out against Rhiner Cruz (0-2), and Asdrubal Cabrera reached on an infield single, beating the throw after third baseman Marwin Gonzalez charged and barehanded his slow roller.
Trevor Crowe caught Michael Brantley's liner to center and nearly doubled Gomes off second, and Mike Aviles loaded the bases with a walk.
Carson, who entered the game as a defensive replacement the previous inning, hit a grounder under the glove of second baseman Jose Altuve for Cleveland's 10th walkoff win this season.
"It wasn't do or die," he said. "If I get a hit we win. If I don't we're still in the ballgame. I was trying to get a good solid swing. It wasn't a pressure at-bat."
Carson was mobbed by his teammates who poured out of the dugout and doused the reserve outfielder with water.
"It's the greatest feeling," he said. "I have done it plenty of times with other guys. To be the guy getting mobbed, it feels good."
Tampa Bay and Texas (83-69) are tied for the two wild cards.
Cleveland (83-70), trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007, has three more games against the major league-worst Astros (51-102), who have had seven losing streaks of six games or more. The Indians then host the Chicago White Sox for two games and finish with four at Minnesota.
Bryan Shaw (5-3) pitched the 11th for the win.
The Astros not only came to town with a five-game losing streak, they were also weary. The players checked into their downtown Cleveland hotel at 6:30 a.m. following a 13-inning home game Wednesday night. Houston lost to Cincinnati 6-5 at Minute Maid Park in a contest that lasted 5 hours, 13 minutes.
Astros manager Bo Porter was unhappy following the game.