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Published: Sunday, 7/29/2001

Indians escape and then Tigers get even

BY RON MUSSELMAN
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

DETROIT - Roberto Alomar wasn't about to let a second chance slip away.

After the Detroit Tigers botched a rundown attempt that would have been the third out in the eighth inning yesterday, Alomar sliced a tie-breaking two-run double down the left-field line off reliever Danny Patterson.

Alomar's hit helped lift the Cleveland Indians to a 6-4 victory in the first game of a day-night doubleheader at Comerica Park.

The Tigers took advantage of a second chance as well, ending a seven-game losing streak by winning the second game 4-2 behind strong pitching by Jeff Weaver, who picked up his 10th victory.

“When you give an extra out to a team like the Cleveland Indians, we'll make you pay,” Alomar said of the first game.

With the score tied at 3 and one out in the eighth, Eddie Taubensee singled off Tigers reliever Heath Murray (0-4). Kenny Lofton grounded into a force play, then went to third on Jolbert Cabrera's single.

Patterson relieved Murray, and caught Cabrera off first with a pickoff attempt. But Cabrera got into a rundown and made it back to first when Detroit shortstop Deivi Cruz looked Lofton back to third before throwing too late to first baseman Tony Clark.

“Cabrera shouldn't even have been off the bag,” Indians manager Charlie Manuel said.

“That was a mistake, and he knows it. I told him about it. We were a little bit lucky there.”

Alomar made the Tigers pay for their fielding miscue, slicing a double to left for a 5-3 lead, and ex-Detroit slugger Juan Gonzalez followed with an RBI single.

“Robbie is leading the American League in hitting; he's gotten a lot of big hits for us this year,” Manuel said. “You know you always have a chance to win the game when he's up there.”

Said Alomar: “When I got a second chance, I knew I had to capitalize on it.”

Gonzalez continued to terrorize his former teammates and Tigers fans when he drilled his 27th home run, a two-run shot off Murray on an 0-1 pitch in the seventh, to tie the score at 3.

Gonzalez, who is constantly worked over by Tigers fans, was 3-for-4 in the opener yesterday. He has four homers and 16 RBIs against Detroit this season.

“I am glad he reacted like that with a big home run,” Manuel said. “The way to shut the fans up is by hitting the ball out of the park. I don't know what his numbers are against the Tigers this year, but they're pretty good.

“As a matter of fact, I'd be willing to pay someone to come over to Cleveland and holler, too.”

Asked if his home run made up for the constant heckling, Gonzalez smiled and said, “Absolutely. I'm excited. We won.”

Cleveland got a solid outing from left-handed starter C.C. Sabathia and its bullpen in the opener.

Sabathia, who was tied with Bartolo Colon for the team lead in wins with 10, gave up three runs, three hits and three walks in six innings. His only mistake was a 2-0 fastball which Cruz hit over the wall in left for his third homer, a three-run shot for a 3-1 Detroit lead in the fourth.

“I think he did a good job,” Manuel said. “He got a little out of whack to Cruz there. He threw a fastball in the middle of the plate and Cruz hit it out. Cruz was behind in the count, C.C. tried to challenge and he got burned.

“Outside of that, C.C. did a good job. I was pretty happy with the way he pitched.”

Danys Baez pitched a scoreless seventh for his first major league victory. John Rocker worked a perfect eighth, and Bob Wickman yielded an RBI single to Robert Fick in the ninth before finishing his 19th save.

“I like our bullpen,” Manuel said. “I like the fact that Baez pitched out of a jam to get the win. He's come a long way since last year. Heck, he's come a long way since this year.”

Juan Encarnacion tripled twice and scored two runs, and Shane Halter had two RBIs and two sparkling defensive plays at third base to help the Tigers end their seven-game skid with a victory in the second game.

“It's always exciting to end a losing streak like that,” Halter said. “We were here all day, so we might as well win one.”

Encarnacion became the first Tiger to triple twice in a game since Brad Ausmus against the Yankees on July 6, 1999.

Weaver (10-9) won for the fourth time in five starts, giving up two runs on five hits and four walks. Six days ago, he gave up six runs in six innings of a 6-3 loss to the Indians.

“We were just making all kinds of mistakes in every part of the game,” Weaver said. “Tonight, I pitched pretty well, we had guys diving all over the place to make plays, and the offense came up with some clutch hits. That's exactly what we need to do.”

The Tigers scored in the first on Randall Simon's RBI single.

Detroit got two more in second. Encarnacion led off with a triple and scored on Halter's single.

Halter moved up on Ryan Jackson's single and Roger Cedeno's sacrifice bunt, then scored on Jose Macias' groundout.

The Tigers added a fourth run in the sixth when Encarnacion tripled past a sliding Russell Branyan in left field and came home on Halter's single.

“The turf is really soft out there, and when I tried to slide for it, I caught my knee and took a huge divot out of the turf,” Branyan said.

Gonzalez left the second game after three innings with a strained left hamstring. He is day-to-day.



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