CLEVELAND (AP) -- Jake Westbrook made his best pitch at precisely the right time.
Westbrook got a key double play with the bases loaded to protect a one-run lead, winning for fifth time in six starts as the Cleveland Indians beat the Texas Rangers 9-4 on Thursday to move closer in the AL wild-card race.Jhonny Peralta had three hits, including a two-run homer, as the Indians pulled within 2½ games of idle Oakland. Coco Crisp and
Travis Hafner each drove in two runs."The double play was key -- that and our offense coming up huge," said Westbrook (11-13).The first four hitters in the Indians' lineup went a combined 11-for-19 with seven runs and seven RBI as Cleveland won for the second time in six games at Jacobs Field after completing a 6-0 trip to Detroit and Kansas City.Texas lost for the eighth time in nine games -- all on the road.Indians second baseman Ronnie Belliard left with a strained neck after running headlong into umpire Eric Cooper's left hip while
chasing a groundball in the sixth. Belliard was taken to a hospital for precautionary X-rays, which were negative."Ronnie's a tough guy, but we didn't want to take any chances there," manager Eric Wedge said. "Hopefully, he'll be fine."Justin Thompson pitched the eighth for Texas in his first major-league appearance since Aug. 15, 1999. An All-Star in 1997 with Detroit and now 32, he's spent the past six years in the minors trying to recover from four operations on his left arm.Thompson gave up Peralta's two-run homer, his 19th."I had a lot of nerves going through my body," Thompson said. "Once I got on the mound, I felt calm and went after the hitters. I just didn't make a quality pitch to Peralta, but it felt great to be out there. It's been a long road, and here I am back doing what I love to do."Westbrook allowed four runs and 10 hits over six innings to improve to 9-4 in 13 starts since June 14. He finished his outing by getting Mark DeRosa to ground into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded, preserving a 5-4 lead."I just thought, 'This is what you do, get ground balls,'" Westbrook said. "Here and there, I felt good. I battled, the defense was great and our bullpen did what they always do."The inning began when Alfonso Soriano grounded a single up the middle. Belliard and Cooper collided, and they both went tumbling to the ground.One out later, Sandy Alomar Jr. doubled and then Westbrook walked Adrian Gonzalez."He was a lefty, and I worked carefully knowing that if I put him on, a right-hander was up next," said Westbrook. "It all worked out."Four Indians relievers combined to pitch three hitless innings. Bob Howry got out of a two-on, one-out jam in the eighth by getting Alomar to hit into a double play, and David Riske worked the ninth.Mark Teixeira drove in two runs for Texas. Michael Young had an RBI double and DeRosa singled home a run.Crisp's two-run double gave Cleveland a 3-2 lead in the third inning against C.J. Wilson (0-6). Hafner and Belliard added RBI doubles later in the inning to make it 5-2.Wilson, a rookie left-hander in his 11th career game in the majors, gave up five runs and seven hits over 2 2/3 innings. He is 0-11 overall this season, including 16 games in the minors."I lost again. That's the bottom line," said Wilson, who missed all of 2004 after having Tommy John surgery and has not won a professional game since July 9, 2003, for Double-A Frisco of the Texas League."Some might guys might lose their confidence," he said. "I don't. I get frustrated. All I want to do is pitch well. They've shown a lot of faith in me, and I want to reward them."Young doubled home a run and scored on a single by Teixeira in the fifth to bring Texas within 5-4.Hafner had an RBI double, and Jose Hernandez drew a bases-loaded walk in the seventh to make it 7-4.
Thompson made his first relief appearance in the majors. He's made 101 starts. ... Nine Rangers have hit 10 or more homers. That leads the majors, one more than Cleveland. ... Texas has lost 27 of its last 42 on the road. ... Hernandez went 0-for-3 and is in a 3-for-30 slump. ... Hafner, who came back Aug. 4 after missing 17 games with a concussion, has hit in 13 of 14 games, going 16-for-50 (.320).