CLEVELAND (AP) -- It wasn't even a bad pitch that ended the Cleveland Indians' scoreless streak.
An unearned run against Aaron Laffey on his own throwing error halted the starting rotation's run of 44 1/3 consecutive shutout innings, but didn't interrupt their string of dominant outings.
Indians starters were almost perfect on their just-completed seven-game homestand.
*One earned run. By the way ... Indians pitchers not named Rafael Betancourt have now gone six consecutive games without allowing an earned run. Betancourt, however, has allowed four in that span.
-- ESPN Research
Laffey pitched the Indians to a 4-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Thursday, completing a three-game sweep and giving the surging Indians eight victories in 10 games."When you talk about five guys -- to do it day in and day out it's impressive," Laffey said. "It's just been an incredible week of starting pitching for us."Cleveland completed a 6-1 homestand in which it allowed runs in just four of 64 innings. The starters went 6-0 with a 0.16 ERA and haven't allowed an earned run in 50 1/3 innings.In the rotation because of an injury to Jake Westbrook, Laffey (2-2) allowed just the unearned run and five hits in seven innings, struck out six and walked one. He lowered his ERA to 1.35 and has gone seven innings in each of his last three starts without giving up an earned run.Cleveland's scoreless streak, which began last Friday, ended in the second when Laffey charged Rob Bowen's weak grounder and threw it into right field, allowing Bobby Crosby to score from second."When it's an error like, that it's kind of disappointing, especially to break a streak like that," Laffey said. "I had a lot more time than I thought I did. I just kind of rushed and let go of the ball too early. It went flying; I almost threw it to second base."The streak was the longest by Cleveland's starters since Bob Lemon, Gene Bearden, Sam Zoldak and Satchel Paige strung together 47 scoreless innings in August 1948 -- all threw complete game shutouts. It was the longest by a major league team in one season since a 54-inning streak by Baltimore's starters from Sept. 1-7, 1974, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.Jhonny Peralta homered for the Indians, who on Wednesday moved into the AL Central lead for the first time since the opening week of the season.Oakland has lost five of six after winning four straight."We've run into some pitching," A's manager Bob Geren said. "We've played good defense and pitched very well. We just haven't scored any runs."The A's loaded the bases with one out in the ninth against Rafael Betancourt. Masa Kobayashi relieved and threw a run-scoring wild pitch, then struck out pinch-hitter Mike Sweeney, who pumped a fist in frustration. Kobayashi then fanned pinch-hitter Ryan Sweeney for his second save in two chances.Indians manager Eric Wedge pulled Betancourt because he was having trouble with his location. Betancourt gave up three runs Tuesday against Toronto and took the Indians' only loss during the homestand.Wedge said he hadn't yet thought about whether Kobayashi, who had 227 saves in nine seasons in Japan, would replace Betancourt as Cleveland's closer.Rookie Greg Smith (2-3) gave up three runs, seven hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings, striking out seven. He has lost three straight decisions."I was inconsistent. The fastball would locate sometimes, other times it wasn't there," Smith said. "The next thing I know I am at 100 pitches."Ryan Garko's RBI double in the first was offset by the unearned run, which ended a streak of 24 scoreless innings for the A's in Cleveland.Ben Francisco and Travis Hafner put Cleveland ahead 3-1 with RBI singles in the third, and Peralta homered in the seventh off Santiago Casilla, who left after facing only one batter. Casilla has a strain in his elbow area and will be checked out Friday in Atlanta, Geren said.
The Indians won the season series 5-4. ... A's 2B Mark Ellis remains day to day with a strained left hamstring. ... Hafner got his seventh career stolen base in the fifth inning. ... The Indians, who have played 17 of their last 20 games at home, go on road for six games against Cincinnati and the Chicago White Sox. ... Thursday was the 27th anniversary of Len Barker's perfect game for Cleveland. ... The American flag flew at half-staff in recognition of National Peace Officer's Memorial Day. ... About 8,000 children from 100 schools were in attendance.