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Indians continue dominance of Rays in Cleveland with 17th straight win

CLEVELAND -- The Tampa Bay Rays limped out of town, hoping a homestand will help them get back on track.

Rookie David Huff and four relievers combined to stifle the Rays and Victor Martinez drove in both runs for the Cleveland Indians in a 2-1 victory Thursday, completing a four-game sweep of the defending American League champions.

The Rays have lost five in a row overall and 17 straight in Cleveland, the longest road losing streak against one team in club history. It was the first four-game sweep for the Indians since they did it to the Rays July 10-13 at Progressive Field.

"Maybe next time we come in, we'll have some candles and holy water," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I have no good explanation for this."

The Rays' run came on Willy Aybar's homer in the sixth, which was upheld after using video replay.

Aybar's 1-0 pitch to right field was just out of the reach of a leaping Shin-Soo Choo. Replays showed the ball hit the yellow line atop the wall before caroming back into the field of play. First base umpire Angel Hernandez immediately ruled it a home run, prompting Indians manager Eric Wedge to argue. After a 90-second video review, crew chief Tim Welke confirmed the call.

"You ask four people what they saw on the replay, two of them are going to be adamant that it was not a home run and two will be adamant that it was a home run," Wedge said. "I'm not talking about umpires, I'm talking players, fans, coaches, whoever it may be. But I appreciate the fact they went in and took a look at it. It has to be their choice. When they do that, you have to respect what they come up with."

It was a difficult road trip for the Rays, who went 2-5 against the Florida Marlins and Cleveland, placing their shortstop, second baseman, closer and staff ace on the disabled list in the span of a week. Now they return home to open a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins, having dropped six games back of Boston in he AL East.

"It was a strange series, all in all," Maddon said. "We need to play some games at home. We need to get our mojo back."

The Indians' bullpen, which has struggled much of this season, excelled Thursday. Jensen Lewis, Matt Herges, Rafael Betancourt and Kerry Wood combined to hold Tampa Bay to one run on four hits over five innings after a 2 hour, 40 minute rain delay in the fourth inning knocked out Huff.

Herges (1-0) struck out Evan Longoria to end the seventh inning with B.J. Upton on second to preserve the slim lead.

"He's a lot better than I am," Herges said of Longoria. "Anytime I get him out, I'll take it. He's going to get me a lot more than I'll get him."

Asdrubal Cabrera reached on a bunt single in the third off starter Jeff Niemann (4-4). He scored on a groundout by Martinez, who singled to drive home Kelly Shoppach in the fifth for the game's only other run.

The Indians' bullpen did the rest. Over their last 18 innings -- all against Tampa Bay -- Tribe relievers have allowed one run on 13 hits. It has allowed the Indians to rally for victories from 10-0 and 5-0 deficits in the series.

"They've gone beyond the call of duty here of late because we've needed so many innings from them," Wedge said. "They've been doing a very good job. They need to recognize that and feel good about how they're performing as a unit."

The final three games of this series were delayed by rain, and Tampa Bay has now endured rain delays in four of its last five games.

The delay prevented Huff from picking up his first major league victory after he was off to the best start of his brief career.

He entered 0-1 with a 17.55 ERA, and was blasted by the Rays for seven runs in 3 2/3 innings last week in his major league debut. Huff had allowed four hits through four innings Thursday before giving way to the rain. He made seven starts at Triple-A, six of which were affected by rain, he said.

"My nickname was Rainman," Huff said. "I'm used to it. It happens. You can't control it, so you just move on."

Game notes
Prior to the game, the Indians recalled Tomo Ohka from Triple-A Columbus and optioned Zach Jackson back to Columbus. RHP Anthony Reyes was transferred to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Ohka. ... RHP Joe Smith will begin a rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Columbus on Saturday. ... Ben Zobrist started for the second straight game at short for the Rays after starting in right field the first two games of the series.