CLEVELAND (AP) -- After completing a three-game sweep of Kansas
City, the Cleveland Indians promised to maintain a calm demeanor
when they start a key series Monday in Chicago.
"Why change anything now?" outfielder Coco Crisp said after
getting three hits in Sunday's 11-0 rout of the Royals. "We want
to win every game, not just three in Chicago. But we're not going
to get all worried about it."
The Indians headed to Chicago with a 1½-game lead over New York
in the AL wild-card race and are 3½ games back of the White Sox in
the AL Central.
Aaron Boone, who had two hits and made two stellar plays at
third base, said the Indians are determined despite a laid back
"We realize there is more at stake, but I promise you we'll go
there with the same attitude," said Boone. "That's just the way
this team is."
Cleveland has won five straight and 12 of 13, and the Indians
are a major-league best 33-11 since July 31. Chicago held a 15-game
lead on Aug. 1.
"This is fun," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "I love to
watch these guys play, how they go out and compete day after day.
They've earned the right to be where they are."
Sabathia (14-10) struck out eight and walked none, improving to
8-1 with a 1.99 ERA since Aug. 5. Fernando Cabrera struck out two
in a perfect ninth.
"This is exciting," Sabathia said. "But the pressure is on
the other guys. We have no sense of urgency. We don't have to do
anything -- except go out and keep playing like we have been."
Sabathia said the club's calmness stems from Wedge and the 2004
season, when Cleveland got within one game of the division lead on
Aug. 15 and then lost nine of 10.
"I thought we'd be in this spot last year," Sabathia said.
"But we got a little too high and then way too low. Now, everybody
believes in one another. That's a little bit from Wedge, a little
bit from what we've learned."
Royals starter Jose Lima (5-16) likes Cleveland's chances, too,
after giving up eight runs and nine hits over four innings.
"They want to show the world they can do it," he said.
"They're a great ballclub. They do it all. The Indians are for
real. It's going to be tough to beat them now."
Lima lost for the eighth time in nine starts. He has allowed 30
homers in 30 games and matched his career high in losses, set when
he went 7-16 for Houston in 2000.
Kansas City dropped to 48-99, the worst record in the majors,
and is on the verge of losing 100 games for second straight season
and third time in franchise history.
"This year has been like a nightmare," Lima said. "It's been
real tough, every start hurts."
Hafner's two-run homer put the Indians ahead with two outs in
the first, and Peralta's three-run homer capped a six-run fourth
that made it 8-0. Broussard added a two-run homer in the seventh
off Chris Demaria.
Kansas City put two runners on at the same time only once. After
Emil Brown hit a one-out single in the seventh and Justin Huber
beat out a two-out dribbler in front of the plate, Sabathia retired
Matthew Diaz on a lineout.
Diaz had two hits for Kansas City, while Broussard and joined
Crisp with three of Cleveland's 16 hits.
Boone took a hit away from Huber with a diving stop in the fifth
and retired leadoff hitter Chip Ambres in the sixth with a nifty
short-hop scoop and throw that brought fans to their feet.
Rookie Franklin Gutierrez, in the game as a defensive
replacement, tracked down a ball hit to the warning track in center
by Ambres to close the eighth.
Indians 2B Ronnie Belliard missed his third straight game
with a strained abdominal muscle. ... Cleveland has 46 homers in
its last 25 games. ... Broussard has six homers in his last 17
games. ... Crisp is hitting .413 (26-for-63) with four homers and
12 RBI in September. ... C-1B Ryan Garko, who hit .303 at Triple-A
Buffalo, struck out in his major-league debut as a pinch hitter in
the eighth for Cleveland. ... Diaz has hit .429 (6-for-14) since
being recalled by the Royals from Triple-A Omaha.