<
>

Sabathia sharp over eight innings, Cards lose 8th straight

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Unlike his last start, there was no quit in
C.C. Sabathia.

Eight dominant innings from the left-hander, who was battered in
his last outing, helped the Cleveland Indians win consecutive games
for the first time since the beginning of June and send the St.
Louis Cardinals to their eighth straight loss with a 3-1 victory on
Tuesday night.

"I felt like a kid throwing a baseball," Sabathia said. "I
was having fun. Just to get back out there and be pitching, it felt
awesome."

Ronnie Belliard hit a two-run homer in the first for the
Indians, who clinched their first series win since taking three of
four from the Chicago White Sox from May 29-June 1. On Monday, they
snapped a 10-game losing streak in series openers. On Wednesday,
they'll go for a sweep of the Cardinals, whose last eight-game
slide was July 4-16, 1988.

"This team, it's not going to be down too much longer,"
Cardinals starter Anthony Reyes said. "Once we get that little
click, it's going to be scary what this team's going to be able to
do."

The Indians, who are 9-15 this month, last won consecutive games
on May 31-June 1. They're 10-3 all-time against the Cardinals,
including 6-2 in St. Louis.

"The pitching is starting to settle in and we're starting to
swing the bats a little bit," manager Eric Wedge said. "A lot of
good things."

Sabathia (6-4) allowed nine runs in 2 1-3 innings against the
Cubs in his last start, the run total equaling his career worst,
and had been 0-3 with a 10.24 ERA in four starts this month. He
muffled the Cardinals, allowing one run and five hits with four
strikeouts and no walks.

After his last outing, Sabathia apologized for briefly quitting
and said "What's inexcusable? For me not to make pitches, for me
to be giving up."

After beating the Cardinals, he said teammates understood that
it was just frustration.

"You know what, those words came out of my mouth but that's not
what I meant," he said. "Everybody in here, all my teammates,
knew what I meant so it really didn't affect me at all."

David Eckstein had three hits and an RBI for the Cardinals, who
have been outscored 67-28 during the slump, although they still
lead the NL Central by 1½ games. They're 0-6 since getting Albert
Pujols back from a side injury.

"It's the same group of guys that lost one of the best players
in the game for two weeks and played like heroes," manager Tony La
Russa said. "Now, we're in a lull and can't make anything good
happen.

"The same guys who were heroes are the same guys who are going
to rebound and make start making good things happen."

Reyes, making his fifth career start and first since losing on a
one-hitter to the White Sox, allowed two runs and four hits in five
innings. He was trailing after the first two batters, a full-count
walk to Grady Sizemore followed by Belliard's fifth homer that put
the Indians ahead 2-0.

The Cardinals cut the deficit to one in the third on Hector
Luna's leadoff double off the third base bag and Eckstein's two-out
RBI single.

Reyes (1-2) worked out of a bases loaded jam in the fifth, which
was delayed 18 minutes by a brief rainstorm, getting Victor
Martinez on an infield pop-up for the third out.

"I was a little shaky with command," Reyes said. "I was just
doing the best I could to put the ball in places where they
couldn't do too much damage."

A two-out rally in the seventh against Adam Wainwright started
by Jhonny Peralta's single and capped by Martinez' single gave the
Indians a 3-1 lead.

Bob Wickman got the last three outs for his 11th save in 13
chances. It came in his 744th appearance, tying him with Willie
Hernandez for 50th on the career list.

Game notes
Sizemore doubled in the third and is 13-for-35 (.371)
during a nine-game hitting streak. He's among the league leaders
with 41 extra-base hits, by far the most by a leadoff hitter. ...
The Cardinals have been outhomered 22-8 over the last 11 games.
They have no long balls the last four games. ... The Indians are
assured of only their second series win since May 23. They had been
1-8-1 since then. ... Three of Reyes' four starts have come in
interleague play. He beat Kansas City earlier this season. ... The
last time the Cardinals lost nine in a row was in 1980 when they
dropped 10 straight from May 15-25.