No matter what, Drew Stubbs was running. That's what the speedy Tribe outfielder does best, so it makes sense.

It was the ninth inning, and Stubbs was going to run no matter what Jason Kipnis did in his at-bat, no matter where he smacked the ball.

So Stubbs had a jump when Kipnis knocked a sharp grounder to first at Progressive Field. Washington first baseman Adam LaRoche immediately fired the ball back to home. But it was too late.

Kipnis' fielder's choice RBI combined with Stubbs' blazing speed meant the difference in the Indians' 2-1 victory over the Nationals in front of 30,824 on Friday. Right-handed reliever Joe Smith earned the victory while pitching a scoreless ninth after seven strong innings by starter Justin Masterson.

The walk-off RBI was the third of Kipnis' career, his second this season. He savored this one by not even glancing back to see what happened at home plate.

"I didn't turn around, I was just waiting for the crowd reaction to see what happened," Kipnis said.

What happened is that Stubbs' speed saved the Tribe's winning streak, which now is up to three straight after their eight-game slide. They are finally back at .500, evening their record at 33-33.

Stubbs started the rally when he slapped a single in the ninth for his first hit of the game, and he was already on his way to second when Michael Bourn knocked another single.

Stubbs advanced to third on Bourn's base hit, which meant he was exactly where he wanted to be with one out, the score knotted 1-1.

He's seen speed make a difference in games, seen what it means to teams when he's recorded 30 stolen bases or more in each of his past four seasons.