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Cleveland makes early lead stand up

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Jake Westbrook's nasty sinker has now
given the Oakland Athletics fits twice this season.

"It's hard to do anything but beat it into the ground," A's
designated hitter Scott Hatteberg said.

That's just what Hatteberg and crew did -- and the A's lost the
AL wild-card lead and their seven-game winning streak.

Grady Sizemore homered and Westbrook outdueled rookie Joe
Blanton to lead the Cleveland Indians to a 2-0 victory over the A's
on Tuesday night.

"The sinker was working really well," Westbrook said. "It was
just a matter of getting them to hit it on the ground and our
defense making good plays."

Jeff Liefer hit an RBI double in the second inning for Cleveland
only hours after being brought up from Triple-A Buffalo, and the
Indians defeated the A's for the fourth time in five meetings this
year.

Westbrook (8-12) beat the Royals last Thursday to end a
three-game losing streak, then held Oakland's streaking offense in
check a day after the A's pounded out 14 hits in a 13-4 win.

He hasn't allowed a run in 14 innings. Manager Eric Wedge
considered letting Westbrook go the distance, but opted instead to
use his bullpen -- which owns the lowest relief ERA in the league.

"I made some adjustments, and I've been going off that ever
since," said Westbrook, who settled down after allowing a leadoff
double to Eric Chavez in the second.

The Indians turned double plays in the fourth and fifth innings
and Westbrook faced the minimum in the first, third, fifth, sixth
and seventh innings. Bob Wickman allowed consecutive singles to
open the ninth before recovering for his 25th save in 28
opportunities.

The A's were trying to match their longest winning streak of the
season, but instead fell behind the New York Yankees for the AL
wild-card lead after briefly going ahead with Monday's 13-4
victory. Oakland lost for only the third time in 13 games since the
All-Star break.

"You can't be perfect every night," A's manager Ken Macha
said. "It's not that easy."

Westbrook had struggled against the A's before this season. He
beat Oakland 6-2 on May 29, giving him a 1-5 record and a 5.01 ERA
vs. the A's in seven career starts coming into this outing.

He allowed two hits over seven innings, struck out two and
walked one in Cleveland's sixth shutout of the season.

After winning five of his six starts in June, Blanton (5-9) is
winless in four outings this month.

He allowed a double to Coco Crisp with one out in the third
before retiring 14 of his final 16 batters. Victor Martinez had a
one-out double in the sixth.

"I've thrown the same as I have the whole month," he said.
"Some teams hit you better than others."

Blanton needed only six pitches to retire the side in order in
the fifth and nine in a 1-2-3 seventh. He gave way to Jay Witasick
in the eighth after allowing three hits and striking out seven with
four walks.

"It was a shame either pitcher had to lose that game," Macha
said. "Both guys pitched extremely well."

Witasick immediately gave up Sizemore's 10th homer of the year,
a shot to right. Crisp followed with a walk and fans began to boo
Witasick, acquired July 13 in the trade with Colorado that sent
popular outfielder Eric Byrnes to the Rockies.

After allowing two walks in the second, Blanton was visited at
the mound by trainer Larry Davis and Macha after complaining of
tightness in his back.

He then gave up the double to Liefer to make it 1-0.

"It was a good start, and it's something you can build on,"
Liefer said.

Macha plans to give his young pitchers extra days between starts
in the coming weeks to preserve their arms for the stretch run.

Oakland's Mark Ellis went 0-for-4 and had his nine-game hitting
streak snapped.

Game notes
Wickman earned his 104th career save to move into a tie
with Jose Mesa for second place in club history, 25 shy of Doug
Jones' franchise record. ... The A's were shut out for the eighth
time this year. ... Jay Payton is hitless in his past 15 at-bats
for Oakland. ... The Indians placed DH Travis Hafner on the DL
retroactive to July 17. Hafner has been having dizzy spells since
being hit in the face by a pitch from Mark Buehrle of the Chicago
White Sox on July 16. He did some light running Tuesday, then was
set to travel home to Cleveland. He will be evaluated by team
doctors in the coming days and work out at Jacobs Field. ... A's CF
Mark Kotsay missed his second straight game with a stiff back. The
A's might also give him Wednesday off and they have an off day
Thursday, so he would have plenty of time to recover.