ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Jake Westbrook has found his pitching groove in time for a playoff stretch run.
Westbrook gave up one run over seven innings, Asdrubal Cabrera hit his first major league homer, and the Cleveland Indians beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 8-1 last night.
Grady Sizemore also went deep for the AL Central-leading Indians, who extended their advantage over the Tigers to 1 1/2 games. Cleveland has won three in a row following a four-game losing streak.
"We're getting close to September, so now every win counts," Westbrook said. "Every win is big right now, and hopefully we can do everything we can to kind of separate ourselves from Detroit."
Westbrook (4-7) allowed just two hits, including an RBI double by Carlos Pena with two outs in the seventh. The right-hander, who spent time earlier this season on the disabled list with a left abdominal strain, has won three of his last four starts.
"For me, it's just getting into a rhythm," Westbrook said. "It's about pitching with confidence and being able to locate my pitches. Right now I feel good on where I am."
Westbrook struck out four and walked two during his 91-pitch outing.
"You look at the last five starts, maybe he's been the Jake Westbrook that we know him to be out there and even beyond that at times," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "Jake was outstanding again today."
Cabrera's three-run drive off Jason Hammel (1-3) put the Indians ahead 3-0 in the second. Called up from Triple-A Buffalo on Aug. 7, the rookie got his first career RBI on a sacrifice fly in Cleveland's 2-1 win on Friday.
"That's a big three-run homer," Wedge said. "That is what got it started, and the guys just added on from there."
Hammel gave up four runs and eight hits in five innings. He is winless in 15 major league starts, including six this season.
The Devil Rays have the majors' worst record at 46-76 and have lost 36 of 49 since June 25.
Sizemore made it 4-0 in the fifth with his 21st homer of the season. Kenny Lofton singled in a run in the sixth, and Ryan Garko hit an RBI double in the seventh to extend the Indians' lead to 6-0. Casey Blake's two-run single in the eighth put Cleveland up 8-1.27.77118 -82.63932