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Traber throws 'Maddux-like' complete game

7/9/2003

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Billy Traber was fast, focused and nearly
flawless.

Traber pitched a one-hitter for his first complete game Tuesday
night, leading the Cleveland Indians to a 4-0 victory over the New
York Yankees, who didn't start injured infielders Derek Jeter and
Alfonso Soriano.

Traber (4-5), whose only previous link to New York was as a
Mets' prospect, dominated a depleted Yankees lineup that struggled
with the left-hander's offspeed pitches and unorthodox delivery.

"It was Greg Maddux-like," Yankees manager Joe Torre said of
Traber needing just 2 hours, 11 minutes to shut out New York. "He
didn't throw hard, but you don't have to when you throw strikes.
When somebody throws soft, it frustrates you. But you certainly
admire and respect it."

After giving up a leadoff single to John Flaherty in the third
inning, Traber retired the final 21 in a row and 27 of 28. He
walked none, struck out five and didn't allow a Yankee to reach
second base.

Traber came very close to pitching a perfect game.

The 23-year-old Traber shook off rookie catcher Victor Martinez
before throwing the 1-2 fastball that Flaherty lined cleanly into
left field.

"Victor wanted a change-up," Traber said. "I threw it a
little too far inside, and he got it."

Flaherty felt lucky to get the hit.

"With two strikes and it being the first time I've seen the
guy, I had no idea what to expect. I was trying to hit it back up
the middle, got jammed and was fortunate it got in there."

Matt Lawton homered, and Casey Blake had three hits off Jeff
Weaver (4-7) as the Indians improved to 7-3 in their last 10.

Traber, who along with Lawton came to the Indians in the
eight-player deal that sent Roberto Alomar to the Mets, was coming
off his worst career start, allowing seven runs and 11 hits in 2
2-3 innings on July 2 against Kansas City.

But he kept the Yankees guessing with a variety of breaking
pitches, and had only five outs recorded by Indians outfielders.

"He had no predictability and that was impressive," said
Torre, whose team was coming off two emotional wins over the Boston
Red Sox. "Don't say it was a letdown after a big series, there was
none of that. It was all him."

The Indians scored two runs in the first off Weaver, who allowed
three runs and seven hits in 7 2-3 innings while losing for the
fifth time in seven starts.

Jeter and Soriano were both kept out of the Yankees' starting
lineup with sore hands after being hit with pitches by Boston's
Pedro Martinez on Monday.

Jeter took a round of batting practice before Torre elected to
keep his captain out. Soriano couldn't grip a bat when he arrived
at the ballpark.

Jeter lined out to center while pinch-hitting in the ninth.

"I'm not sure having those guys would have made a difference,"
Torre said.

The way Traber was throwing, Jeter and Soriano might not have
mattered.

"I know they were missing some guys," Traber said. "But
that's still a professional hitting team."

Jeter's replacement, rookie Erick Almonte, had his share of
problems. He couldn't stop Blake's slow-rolling RBI single in the
first. In the third, he failed to turn a double play and booted a
grounder by Blake that was right at him.

Cleveland scored twice in the first off Weaver, who was making
his first start since June 29. Lawton reached on a one-out walk,
and with two outs, rookie Jody Gerut barely missed a homer with an
RBI double off the wall in right-center.

Blake followed with a grounder to center that got under
Almonte's glove for an RBI single.

Lawton led off the eighth with his 15th homer and eighth in 22
games. Martinez added an RBI single later in the inning off Chris
Hammond.

Game notes
It was Cleveland's first complete game, one-hitter since
Bartolo Colon against the Yankees on Sept. 18, 2000. It was also
the Indians' first one-hitter in Cleveland since Tom Candiotti
allowed only an eighth-inning single to Mike Easler on Aug. 3,
1987. ... A lightning bolt hit near Jacobs Field while New York was
taking batting practice, and the subsequent thunderclap caused
several Yankees, including pitcher David Wells, to sprint for the
dugout. ... The Yankees are expected to recall OF Bernie Williams
from the minors for Wednesday's game. Williams has been out since
late May after undergoing knee surgery. ... Indians SS Omar Vizquel
(right knee surgery) will work out with the club the next two days
and hopes to begin a rehab assignment later this week. ... Jeter
and Soriano had not been out of the starting lineup in the same
game since Sept. 10 last season.