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Published: Wednesday, 4/9/2003

No relief in sight for Tribe

BY RON MUSSELMAN
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

CLEVELAND - Ricardo Rodriguez outdueled Bartolo Colon yesterday for six innings.

But Cleveland's bullpen didn't provide any relief for Rodriguez or the Indians in their home opener.

Chad Paronto gave up an RBI single to Jose Valentin and Frank Thomas added a sacrifice fly in the 10th inning as the Chicago White Sox handed the Indians a 5-3 setback at foggy Jacobs Field.

“We do need to do a better job out of the bullpen,” rookie manager Eric Wedge said.

Earlier, the White Sox had wiped out a 2-1 deficit by tagging Indians reliever Jose Santiago for a pair of runs in the seventh on former Indians catcher Sandy Alomar's RBI double and D'Angelo Jimenez's run-scoring single.

In all, five Indians relievers were tagged for five hits and four earned runs in four innings. Paronto (0-1) was saddled with the loss as Cleveland's bullpen blew its third save opportunity in five chances.

“Our bullpen has really run into some tough situations so far,” Indians catcher Josh Bard said. “I am confident they will eventually get things turned around.”

Rodriguez was sharp in his second start of the season, as was former Cleveland ace Colon.

Rodriguez allowed four hits and one run in six innings in chilly conditions - the game-time temperature was 34 degrees. He walked one and struck out five while throwing 92 pitches.

“With the conditions the way they were, and being early in the season, and him approaching 100 pitches, that was enough for him today,” Wedge said. “He did an outstanding job with all of his pitches. He gave our team a terrific chance to win the ballgame.”

Rodriguez has allowed just two runs in 13 innings for a 1.38 ERA.

“I think I threw OK, but it wasn't good enough because we lost,” he said.

Colon, facing the Indians for the first time since being traded to Montreal last June, allowed two runs and six hits in six innings.

“It felt kind of strange, but that's how baseball goes,” he said. “After two innings, it was like any game.”

Colon walked three and struck out six while pitching in short sleeves.

“He was the Bartolo we all know very well,” said Tribe shortstop Omar Vizquel, who went 4-for-5 with two doubles and two RBIs. “When he's throwing 97, 98 [mph] like he was today in those kind of conditions, it's unreal. It's very hard to deal with.”

“It wasn't Kissimmee, Florida,” Bard said. “But the White Sox had to deal with it, too.”

Billy Koch, the last of three Chicago relievers, pitched two scoreless innings for the win. The White Sox won their fourth in a row.

“Down the stretch, their bullpen out-pitched ours and that was the difference,” Cleveland center fielder Milton Bradley said.

Vizquel's RBI double off Colon in the sixth had staked the Indians to a 2-1 lead. Vizquel rallied the Indians again in the seventh. After Casey Blake led off with a double off the wall, Vizquel pulled a two-out pitch from Tom Gordon into the corner in right, tying it at 3.

“Omar was great today,” Wedge said. “He had a couple of real clutch hits for us.”

Vizquel's four hits were the most by an Indian this year.

“It was a good day for me, but I'd feel a lot better if we'd won the game,” Vizquel said.

With the scored tied at 3 in the 10th, Alomar opened with a single off Paronto. He was replaced by pinch-runner Miguel Olivo. Jimenez walked on four pitches and Valentin followed with an RBI single. Thomas' sacrifice chased home Jimenez.

Alomar, who played 11 seasons with the Indians from 1990-2000, was 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs. He tied the game at 1 with an RBI double in the fifth and evened it at 2 with another double in the seventh.

“Sandy had a really good day at the plate,” Wedge said. “I'm sure he was pumped up to play against us just as much as Bartolo was.”

“I had a pretty good spring and I guess it's carrying over,” Alomar said. “Whenever you talk April or the postseason in Cleveland, it's cold. Expect it.”



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