CLEVELAND (AP) -- Hitting for the cycle on the first nine pitches
they saw, the Cleveland Indians finished an emphatic three-game
sweep of the rival Minnesota Twins.
Cliff Lee won his seventh straight decision and the Indians had
17 hits in a 12-4 rout of the reeling Twins on Sunday night,
stretching their winning streak to seven games.Cleveland maintained its 1½-game lead over the New York Yankees
in the AL wild-card race by winning for the 18th time in 23 games.
The Indians also pulled within 5½ games of first-place Chicago in
the Central."We don't worry about catching (Chicago), we just go out to win
our game," said Coco Crisp, who tied a career high with four hits.
"We respect other teams, but we're only concerned with what we
do."Cleveland is the closest it has been to the White Sox since
April 20. The Indians have gained 9½ games on the leaders since
being 15 back on July 25, going 31-12 during that stretch.Ronnie Belliard hit a three-run homer, Victor Martinez added a
two-run shot, and Grady Sizemore had a solo homer among his three
hits, three runs and three RBI.The game was moved from the afternoon to an 8:05 p.m. to
accommodate ESPN."Whether or not we were on national TV made no difference,"
said Sizemore, who was a double short of the cycle. "We go out and
play hard every game."Lee (16-4), unbeaten in his last 11 starts, allowed two runs and
four hits over six innings. He is 10-1 in 18 starts since June 6
and his .800 overall winning percentage trails only St. Louis'
Chris Carpenter (21-4, .840) in the majors."I'm just part of a very good team," said Lee. "I think we've
got what it takes to make the playoffs. Once we get there, we can
be a force."The fans tonight were great. They're starting to realize
what's going on here."Sizemore brought the crowd of 38,564 to its feet, chanting
"Grady, Grady," with a leaping catch against the wall in center
to rob pinch-hitter Luis Rodriguez of extra bases in the eighth."Grady's a fantastic young player," manager Eric Wedge said.Sizemore held his left shoulder after crashing into the wall,
but waved off assistance."It's a little sore, but we won and that's all that matters,"
Sizemore said.Carlos Silva (9-8) left after one inning with a sore right knee,
a condition he has battled all season and put him on the disabled
list in April. He made only 18 pitches, yielding four hits and four
runs in the shortest of his 61 career starts for Minnesota.Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said Silva's season could be
over."We're looking at the possibility of getting this thing cleaned
up," he said. "He's pitched on it long enough."Sizemore tripled to center on Silva's second pitch and Crisp
lined the next one into the right-field corner for an RBI double.
Crisp took third on a second-pitch single by Jhonny Peralta and
scored on a sacrifice fly by Travis Hafner.Martinez then lined a 1-1 pitch from Silva over the wall in
center for his 19th homer and 4-0 lead."It just happened," Crisp said of the outburst. "We didn't
collectively sit down and say we were going to hit the first pitch
we saw or anything."Joe Mays fared worse in one inning of relief, giving up six runs
in the second as the Indians took a 10- lead. Sizemore hit a
two-run homer, his 19th, Hafner had an RBI single and Belliard
capped the rally with a three-run shot, his 13th."They came out and smoked the baseball," Gardenhire said.
"Every pitch we threw that was up, they whacked it."Peralta's RBI single off Matt Guerrier made it 11-0 in the
third.Jacque Jones' two-run homer in the fourth, his 20th, got the
Twins within 11-2.Sizemore singled home a run in the sixth and the Twins got two
unearned runs in the seventh off Fernando Cabrera.The three-game sweep sent the reeling Twins to their fifth loss
in six games and dropped the three-time defending AL Central
champions 15 games behind Chicago.
Indians starters are 7-1 with a 1.81 ERA over the last 11
games. ... Cleveland won the season series, 10-9, including a 5-4
mark in one-run games. ... Crisp's four-hit game was his third this
season and sixth of his career. ... Twins C Chris Heintz made his
first career start and got his first hit, a fifth-inning single.
... A $5 ticket promotion swelled the crowd to more than 10,000
above average for the Indians, who rank 28th of 30 in major-league