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Martinez continues RBI tear with three more

5/18/2004

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Victor Martinez doesn't fit the profile of a
typical cleanup hitter -- until he swings his bat.

Martinez had three more RBI, and Cliff Lee stayed unbeaten as
the Cleveland Indians won their fifth straight, 7-2 over the
Chicago White Sox on Monday night.

Martinez, whose AL-high 10 RBI in his five previous games, made
him a co-winner of the league's player of the week award, hit an
RBI double in the first inning and a two-run single in the second
off Felix Diaz (0-1).

In 13 starts since Martinez was moved into the Indians' cleanup
spot on May 3, the switch-hitting catcher is batting .333
(18-for-54) with 21 RBI.

"He showed in the minors he can hit," Indians second baseman
Ronnie Belliard said of Martinez, a two-time league batting
champion before making it to the majors. "He can hit right-handers
or left-handers.

"He's just raking."

Lee (5-0) gave up one run and two hits in the first and nothing
else to the White Sox, who made three errors. He walked three,
struck out three and became the first Cleveland starter to go 5-0
since Dennis Martinez went 9-0 in 1995.

"It couldn't have gone any better for me," Lee said.

Travis Hafner and Matt Lawton added two RBI apiece for the
Indians, who hadn't won five in a row since May 27-June 2 last
season.

Chicago has dropped seven of 10.

The start was delayed 1 hour, 29 minutes by thunderstorms, and
the game was stopped again by rain for another 34 minutes in the
bottom of the fifth.

Diaz was roughed up in his second start since being recalled
from Triple-A Charlotte. Pitching on just three days' rest, he
allowed six runs and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings.

"Pitching sets the tone and we did not do that today," White
Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "You have to throw strikes and if
you don't, you get hurt."

Cleveland came close to chasing the right-hander in the first,
scoring three runs on five hits.

Singles by Matt Lawton and Omar Vizquel put runners at first and
third for Martinez, whose double tied it 1-1.

At 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, Martinez might not have the bulging
biceps and big bat of a typical major league cleanup hitter, but
he's producing like one.

His two RBI in the second put the Indians ahead 5-1 and gave
him 13 in six games.

Indians manager Eric Wedge moved Martinez into the cleanup spot,
hoping he could balance Cleveland's lineup. He seems to have gotten
the symmetry he wanted thanks to Martinez, whose 30 RBI are
third-most in the AL.

"He goes up there to hit," Wedge said. "He doesn't get caught
up in the situation and focuses on what he needs to do from pitch
to pitch."

Hafner followed with a two-run single, giving him six RBI in
his last four at-bats and the Indians a 3-1 lead.

The White Sox went up 1-0 in the first when Aaron Rowand
singled, went to third on a base hit by Magglio Ordonez and scored
on Frank Thomas' tapper in front of the plate.

Chicago got its other run in the eighth on pinch-hitter Ross
Gload's first homer.

Game notes
During the pregame delay, White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle
entertained the crowd with two dashes and headfirst dives (more
like flops) across the rain-soaked tarp. ... Thomas' RBI was the
1,408th of his career, putting him in 57th place. Mark McGwire is
56th with 1,414. ... Indians 2B Ronnie Belliard was credited with a
single in the sixth on a grounder that got stuck in the webbing of
3B Joe Crede's glove. ... The Indians have outscored teams 31-7 in
the second inning this season. ... Terry Clark, pitching coach for
the Indians' Triple-A team in Buffalo, was fired Monday. The Bisons
have the second-worst ERA in the 14-team International League and
are off to their worst start since 1987.