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Royals are first team in 13 years to start 9-0

4/12/2003

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Since the first day of spring training, Kansas
City manager Tony Pena has preached one thing to his Royals:
Believe in yourselves.

Looks like the message sunk in.

Kansas City extended baseball's best start in 13 years Saturday
as Raul Ibanez and Michael Tucker hit two-run homers Saturday,
leading the Royals to a 5-2 win over the Cleveland Indians.

An unlikely 9-0, the Royals are the majors' only undefeated team
and are the first club since the 1990 Cincinnati Reds to win its
first nine games. Those Reds went on to win the World Series.

It would be hard to imagine the small-market Royals duplicating
that, but no one predicted their fast start, either -- especially
after they went 62-100 last season.

"I know we've surprised a lot of people,'' Pena said. "But we
worked so hard this spring. I'm probably the only one not
surprised.''

With a win Sunday, Kansas City would be the eighth team to start
10-0 and the first since the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers.

"We're going out there trying to win,'' Indians center fielder
Milton Bradley said. "They're expecting to.''

Ibanez's homer in the sixth inning off C.C. Sabathia (0-2) put
the Royals up 3-2, and Tucker connected in the seventh off David
Riske to make it 5-2.

Chris George (2-0), one of the 17 Royals batting a flu bug the
past few days, allowed two runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings.

Jason Grimsley and Albie Lopez got the Royals to the ninth and
rookie D.J. Carrasco got three outs for his first career save.

Carrasco was given the ball because Mike MacDougal, who leads
the majors with six saves, was ill and resting in the clubhouse.

"They just want it,'' Pena said. "They want to play. I keep
saying it's a 25-man ballclub and I'm going to use every one of
them.''

During training camp, Pena told his team to ignore the dire
preseason predictions and just play.

"Forget about the payroll. Forget about the big names,'' Pena
said, reciting his mantra. "I just want guys to have fun.''

Bradley and rookie Brandon Phillips homered for the Indians, who
blew early scoring chances and had some bad luck, too.

Cleveland left the bases loaded in the first and had a potential
big inning sabotaged in the sixth when Matt Lawton got hit on the
leg while running to second on Josh Bar single and was called out.

At 3-7, the Indians are off to their worst start since 1992.

"I hope somebody's going to be real sick to their stomachs,''
Bradley said. "I know I am.''

Sabathia, who left his previous start -- against Kansas City --
with a hyperextended elbow, gave up three runs and seven hits in 5
1/3 innings.

He took a 2-1 lead in the sixth, but gave up a leadoff single to
Ken Harvey. Ibanez then worked Sabathia to a full count before
connecting for his second homer this season and the first allowed
by Sabathia in 18 2/3 innings.

"I made a bad pitch, a 3-2 fastball,'' Sabathia said. "He knew
it was coming.''

Tucker followed a leadoff single by Mike DiFelice with his first
homer, driving Riske's pitch into the seats in right.

After his team was shut out 1-0 Friday, Indians manager Eric
Wedge met with some of his players before Saturday's game. Wedge's
raised voice could be heard in the hallway outside of Cleveland's
auxiliary weight room.

"He wanted to remind everyone what's expected of them,'' rookie
catcher Josh Bard said. "He's a great communicator. I'll follow
him wherever he goes. We have to be men about it now.''

Bradley led off the first with his first homer. Phillips opened
the second with his second homer, pulling a 1-0 pitch from George
over the wall in right.

On Friday, George was so sick that he wasn't sure he'd be able
to make his start.

"I ate a couple bananas and started feeling better,'' he said.

Kansas City's latest win has helped speed his recovery.

"This start is going to help us all season,'' George said.
"We'll be able to look back on it and know we can do it.''

Game notes
Royals 1B Mike Sweeney sat out with the flu that has swept
through K.C.'s clubhouse. ... Indians OF Karim Garcia missed his
third straight game with a sore left wrist. Garcia, who had 52 RBI
in 51 games last season. He'll also sit Sunday. ... The Royals are
just the 12th team since 1901 to win their first nine games.
They're nine games over .500 for the first time since 1995. ...
Bradley has hit safely in all 10 games. ... Kansas City's 1-0 win
on Friday was the club's first by that score since Sept. 21, 1997.