The never-quit mentality was evident for both the Indians and Brewers on Tuesday afternoon as they close in on their Opening Day bouts next week.
Hosea Nelson and Ronny Rodriguez each homered as part of a five-run eighth inning to attempt a comeback, but the Brewers scored six times in the final two innings to win 13-12 at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix, Ariz.
The Tribe's offensive juggernaut tallied 19 hits and was aided by the efforts of Michael Brantley (2-for-3, 1 2B), Yan Gomes (2-for-3), Daniel Robertson (3-for-4, 2 2Bs) and Erik Gonzalez (2-for-4, 1 2B).
Jesus Aguilar, a power-hitting first baseman who was waived by Cleveland just one month ago, proved to be the difference-maker with a game-tying three-run tater.
10-run eighth inning
With the score even at 7-7 heading into the eighth, Cleveland and Milwaukee scored five runs apiece to set the stage for a climactic final frame.
Moments after Michael Martinez, Jordan Smith and Gomes singled, Nelson stepped into a major league batter's box for the first time in his professional career. The ninth round pick in the 2016 First-Year Player Draft blasted a three-run bomb to propel the road nine's lead to 11-7. Ronny Rodriguez furthered the outburst with a solo homer of his own.
In response, Milwaukee came back and evened the score at 12-12, mainly because of Aguilar's three-run home run off Bryan Shaw. Prospect David Speer was charged with an inherited run scored after allowing the game-winning RBI single to Mitch Ghelfi to give Shawn Armstrong the tough-luck loss.
Kluber surrenders three round-trippers
Kluber made a few uncharacteristic mistakes against a team he has not faced since the year in which he achieved the AL Cy Young Award (2014).
Orlando Arcia launched a pair of home runs before Ryan Braun followed suit with a solo shot to extend the lead to 5-4 in the bottom of the fifth.
"He's ready to go make a lot of starts," said manager Terry Francona to reporters after the contest. "Obviously, you hope a guy comes out of the chute. But sometimes it takes guys some time, regardless of who you are, to kind of get on a roll."
Kluber was able to escape without further damage and is primed for his Game 1 start vs. Texas on April 3.
It was a day to forget for the Brewers' Opening Day starter Junior Guerra.
The 32-year-old veteran gave up a sac fly to Gomes in the first, RBI double to Yandy Diaz in the third and an RBI double to Gonzalez in the fourth.
In total, the Tribe registered 12 runs on 19 hits, but left seven men on base in the losing effort.
The battle of Ohio resumes on Wednesday when the Indians and Reds clash at 3:05 PM ET from Goodyear Ballpark.
Carlos Carrasco and Brandon Finnegan will toe the slab in their final starts of the spring.
John Alfes has covered the Indians for IBI since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.