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Michaels works magic for Tribe

Jason-Michaels

Cleveland outfielder gets all of the ball as his three-run home run in the seventh inning puts the Indians ahead for good. The blast pushed his hitting streak to 11 games. ASSOCIATED PRESS

Mark Duncan / AP Enlarge

CLEVELAND - Jason Michaels can find a lot of ways to win a ballgame. Playing long ball isn't usually one of them.

"I'm not a home run hitter," he said.

The Oakland Athletics might beg to differ. Michaels hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning and the Cleveland Indians held off the A's 4-3 yesterday.

The Indians trailed 3-1 when Michaels hit his sixth home run. He connected off Ron Flores (0-2), sending a drive into the bleachers in left-center field that extended his hitting streak to 11 games.

"I was looking for something in the middle of the plate," he said. "I was trying to hit the ball up the middle."

Ironically, an ill-advised throw by Michaels from left field helped Oakland's ninth-inning threat against closer Joe Borowski.

The Athletics put runners on second and third with one out, but Shannon Stewart - 10-for-20 in the four-game series - popped out and Mark Kotsay flied out, giving Borowski his 22nd save in 24 chances.

"I'm not happy going 1-3 here," Oakland manager Bob Geren said. "We just didn't get it done."

Dan Johnson homered, doubled and singled twice for Oakland, which held an early 3-0 lead. The Athletics fell to 1-6 on their nine-game road trip.

"It's tough to win a four-game series, especially against a starting staff like that," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "I'm pleased with the way we've played this series."

Johnson singled to start the ninth. One out later, Jason Kendall singled to left and Michaels threw late to third base, allowing Kendall to easily take second. After the play, Michaels stood in the outfield shaking his head.

Asked when he realized his mistake, Michaels said, "When the ball was about an inch from my hand. I know a lot better than that."

Paul Byrd (7-3) allowed three runs in seven innings in winning for the first time since May 30. The right-hander gave up 10 hits, struck out three and didn't walk a batter.

"It's been too long," he said of the gap between wins.

Byrd, who allowed six hits in the first two innings, hadn't pitched seven innings since May 20, a stretch of seven starts.

"I don't know if you guys noticed, but I got through the seventh inning," he said. "It might be the sign of the end of an age."

A's starter Joe Blanton took a 3-1 lead into the seventh. Kelly Shoppach led off with a single and Josh Barfield hit a line drive that fell in front of right fielder Nick Swisher. Unsure if the ball would drop, Shoppach got a late break off first and was forced out at second.

Following Casey Blake's pinch-hit single, Flores relieved Blanton. Grady Sizemore hit a long drive to right-center that Swisher caught - he held onto the ball despite falling to the ground and hitting the wall.

The good defense went for naught when Michaels homered.

"It was supposed to be a fastball inside," Flores said. "I feel bad for Joe [Blanton]."

NOTES: Byrd has walked two batters in his last 712/3 innings, both intentional. His last unintentional walk was on April 26. ... The Indians placed reliever Roberto Hernandez on waivers for the purpose of giving him his unconditional release. He was designated for assignment on June 20. ... Left fielder David Dellucci had successful surgery to remove a torn tendon from his left hamstring yesterday. The surgery was performed at the Cleveland Clinic.

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