Series: Game 3 of 4

Boston leads 2-1 (as of 9/17)

Game 1: Monday, September 16
Cleveland 1Final
Boston 6
Game 2: Monday, September 16
Cleveland 7Final
Boston 1
Game 3: Tuesday, September 17
Cleveland 2Final
Boston 4
Game 4: Wednesday, September 18
Cleveland 6Final
Boston 4

Indians 2

(67-85, 31-43 away)

Red Sox 4

(86-65, 40-37 home)

    7:05 PM ET, September 17, 2002

    Fenway Park, Boston, Massachusetts 

    123456789 R H E
    CLE 000000011 2 - -
    BOS 01020001 - 4 - -

    W: T. Wakefield (11-5)

    L: C. Sabathia (11-11)

    S: U. Urbina (36)

    Wakefield continues streak -- likely too litle too late

    BOSTON (AP) -- Tim Wakefield is making a convincing case that he should stay in the Red Sox rotation next year.

    Tim Wakefield
    Starting Pitcher
    Boston Red Sox
    GM W L Sv K ERA
    43 11 5 3 128 2.77

    He won his fourth consecutive start, pitching Boston to a 4-2 win over the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night. He's allowed just one earned run in his last seven games, a 1.24 ERA in that stretch.

    Manager Grady Little wouldn't mind keeping Wakefield in the rotation. Wakefield has bounced back and forth during the last three years.

    ''If it were me, and just my preferences, it would be to start him,'' Little said.

    That is Wakefield's preference, although he realizes his versatility makes him valuable.

    ''I've always been confident when I take the mound. This year it's been a little bit different,'' said Wakefield, 8-2 since joining the rotation July 23. ''I'm having a little more success than I've had in the past.''

    Boston president Larry Lucchino has noticed and told Wakefield on Monday he wants him to retire as a Red Sox player, the pitcher said.

    Wakefield (11-5) got support from Benny Agbayani's RBI single in the second, Rey Sanchez's two-run double in the fourth and Manny Ramirez's seventh homer in 11 games, an eighth-inning drive.

    Ramirez took over the AL batting lead at .344, going 3-for-4. Mike Sweeney, who started the day tied with Ramirez at .340, went 2-for-4 to improve to. 342.

    Ramirez also hit his 33rd homer of the season in the eighth, reaching 100 RBI for the fifth straight season -- despite missing 39 games after breaking his finger May 11.

    ''It's been pretty amazing,'' Boston's Johnny Damon said. ''Hopefully, he keeps it up, wins the batting title. He's got 100 RBI and he missed six weeks. It goes to show you. He's something special.''

    C.C. Sabathia (11-11) agreed.

    ''You can throw him fastballs, breaking balls, whatever,'' Sabathia said. ''He's going to hit it.''

    Wakefield allowed five hits in eight innings, and Ugueth Urbina finished for his 36th save in 41 chances. Wakefield, who hasn't pitched a complete game since Aug. 19, 1998, at Kansas City, has started just 17 games in each of the last three seasons.

    The Indians scored in the eighth on a double by Chris Magruder and Omar Vizquel's third single. Jim Thome added his 46th homer in the ninth, extending his streak of reaching base to 46 games.

    But the Indians frequently swung at first or second pitches.

    ''You don't want to get down in the count,'' Thome said of Wakefield. ''There's really no approach to facing him.''

    Cleveland rarely hit the ball hard against the knuckleballer before then. Wakefield gave up singles to the first two batters in the first -- Milton Bradley and Vizquel, and a single to Vizquel in the third.

    Wakefield retired 14 consecutive batters, with only four balls leaving the infield, before Magruder led off the eighth with a double.

    Sabathia, who had been 5-1 in his previous eight starts, allowed eight hits in his second complete game this season -- the other was a 4-1 loss at Anaheim on Aug. 18.

    Game notes

    Boston 3B Shea Hillenbrand was thrown out in the first and fifth on grounders to 3B Travis Fryman. It appeared he may have beaten the throw the first time, and the play was very close the second. ... In the fourth, Tony Clark stopped at third on Sanchez's double even though 3B coach Mike Cubbage was waving him home. Clark was stranded when Damon ended the inning by flying out. ... Little put up a mild protest when 1B umpire Andy Fletcher called Damon out on a pickoff attempt. Replays showed he touched the bag before being tagged. ... Ten of Magruder's 13 doubles have come on the road.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press