Minnesota's Central lead dwindles

CLEVELAND (AP) -- A packed stadium. A pennant chase. It's just
like the good old days at Jacobs Field.

This time it's Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner pounding teams,
instead of Albert Belle and Jim Thome.

Playing in front of their first sellout crowd since opening day,
the Indians pulled within one game of the AL Central lead, scoring
four runs in the first inning and beating Minnesota 7-1 Saturday

After two seemingly effortless wins, the Indians can tie the
first-place Twins if they complete the series sweep Sunday.

"We are their whipping boy right now and we don't like that,"
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

The Indians have not had a piece of the division lead this late
in the season since 2001.

They have won six straight and 10 of 11, gaining seven games on
the Twins in 10 days. Minnesota, which has lost eight of 10, had a
season-high six-game lead over the Indians and Chicago White Sox
after last Sunday's games.

"They're a great team. We know that," Indians pitcher Jake
Westbrook said of the Twins. "We've just come out real strong
early on them and been able to hold them off."

Westbrook (11-5) won for the fifth time in six starts, giving up
one run and five hits in seven innings. He was helped by
inning-ending double plays in the fourth and fifth innings.

"He was able to make some big pitches in some tough
situations," Indians manager Eric Wedge said.

Hafner hit a two-run homer in the first inning, Casey Blake hit
a solo shot and Ronnie Belliard's major league-leading 41st double
off the wall in left scored Ben Broussard from first for a 4-0
lead. Martinez added a three-run homer in the fifth.

Indians fans have finally taken notice of the team's surge with
40,942 attending the game. One fan's sign read: "PLAYOFF BOUND."

Fans rose to their feet in the seventh as Westbrook faced
Michael Cuddyer with two runners in scoring position. The crowd
roared as Cuddyer grounded out to shortstop Omar Vizquel, ending
the Twins' lone threat.

"When it's packed, you really feel them," Wedge said.

Torii Hunter repeatedly screamed an expletive in the clubhouse
after the game. He said he was just letting off stress.

"I advise everybody to go home and do it," Hunter joked.

Despite his frustration, he complimented the Indians and their

"This is one of my favorite ballparks," he said. "To see it
filled up like the old days is cool. And they are playing like the
old Indians, too."

Things weren't as cordial on the field.

After Martinez spun out of the way from a high inside pitch from
Kyle Lohse in the third, the umpires had to restrain both managers
after they stormed onto the field.

Gardenhire said Indians bench coach Buddy Bell and others in
Cleveland dugout were screaming at his pitcher for throwing inside.

"I've got to go out and defend my player," Gardenhire said.
"We can handle getting beat. But we're not going to let them do

Wedge acknowledged that someone in the dugout shouted out. He
said he was surprised to see Gardenhire on the field.

"I don't know what he was so upset about," he said.

Lohse (5-10) allowed seven runs and seven hits in five innings,
losing his second straight start. Shannon Stewart homered in the
sixth for the Twins.

Jody Gerut made a diving catch in right field on Cuddyer's drive
with a runner on second to end the game.

Game notes
Martinez has 82 RBI, one shy of Sandy Alomar Jr.'s team
season record for a catcher. ... Gardenhire came out to complain in
the seventh after Jones' fly ball hit off the yellow line on the
outfield wall and was not ruled a home run. Wedge made the same
argument on Blake's triple in the third. ... Vizquel is hitting
.356 (57-for-160) over his last 41 games. ... C Henry Blanco, who
is .071 (2-for-28) in his last 11 games, had a strike called
against him by plate umpire Mike Everitt when he was standing
outside the batter's box in the sixth.