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Published: 3/25/2008

Tribe's Westbrook perfect

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Cleveland's Jake Westbrook gave up no runs and no hits and struck out eight in six innings. Cleveland's Jake Westbrook gave up no runs and no hits and struck out eight in six innings.
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WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - Jake Westbrook struck out eight over six perfect innings and the Cleveland Indians beat the Atlanta Braves 8-0 yesterday.

Westbrook struck out the side in the first and extended his scoreless streak to 14 innings over four spring starts. The right-hander has yet to yield a run, allowing only five hits while striking out 16.

"I don't think the '27 Yankees could have hit that guy today," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "That's as good as you can get, and he had all of his pitches, all of them."

Westbrook, who had a sore right arm early in camp, said he feels as strong as he ever has with one week to go before opening day.

"I'm glad they sat me down a couple days early," Westbrook said. "I feel real strong and confident with all my pitches."

Westbrook was so efficient, throwing only 65 pitches, that he went to the bullpen to throw 30 more, joking that he walked one there to ruin his perfect game.

"I'd like to string nine like that some time in the regular season or playoffs, but it's so darn tough," he said. "Casey [Blake] was yelling, 'Send him back out there.'•"

Indians manager Eric Wedge took no chances with Westbrook, who missed seven weeks early last season with an oblique strain and finished with only a 6-9 record after amassing 44 wins over the previous three years.

"Jake was real good," Wedge said. "The thing about him is he's so consistent. I'd like to see him go the whole season for us."

Chipper Jones got Atlanta's first hit, a two-out double in the seventh off Jorge Julio.

Braves starter Buddy Carlyle gave up one run over four innings, but lefty Jeff Ridgway probably pitched his way back to Triple-A with a poor inning that included his own two-run throwing error, a balk, two walks, four hits and six runs allowed.

"He had a rough day," Cox said.

NOTES: Cleveland is trying to deal veteran LHP Aaron Fultz, who was told by Wedge yesterday morning that he would not break camp with the Indians. ... Cleveland sent LHPs Jeremy Sowers and Aaron Laffey to its minor league camp. ... LHP Craig Breslow, claimed on waivers from Boston on Sunday, reported to Cleveland's camp. The 27-year-old is in the mix with Julio and RHPs Tom Mastny and Scott Elarton for the final two bullpen spots. ... RHP Brendan Donnelly reported to Cleveland's camp. The veteran, signed to a minor league deal Feb. 6, is recovering from Tommy John surgery in August and not expected to pitch until midseason.

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - Cliff Lee earned his first big win of the year yesterday - reclaiming his rotation spot with the Indians.

Lee, demoted to the minors for a brief time last season, pitched five scoreless innings against the New York Mets on Saturday.

That outing won the competition with fellow left-handers Jeremy Sowers and Aaron Laffey, who were sent to the minors.

"Cliff reported in outstanding shape and as camp went along, pitched better and better," general manager Mark Shapiro said.

Lee is scheduled to pitch Cleveland's final spring game in Florida on Thursday, then start an exhibition game at Class A Kinston (N.C.) on April 1. The Indians will not need a fifth starter until the second week of the season.

"I'm happy, of course," Lee said. "This sure beats a year ago."

Last season he struggled to a 5-8 record and 6.29 ERA.

Tigers 5, Nationals 3

VIERA, Fla. - Left-hander Nate Robertson pitched 51/3 innings and gave up one run on four hits in Detroit's victory over Washington. He struck out three and walked two.

Right-hander Aquilino Lopez held the Nationals scoreless over 12/3 innings in relief.

In the first inning, Detroit's Placido Polanco scored the first run of the game on an RBI single by Magglio Ordonez.

Miguel Cabrera drove in the Tigers' second run with a single. Dane Sardinha added a home run off right-hander Jesus Colome.

Carlos Guillen was the only Detroit player to collect multiple hits.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of Robertson: "I think he ran out of gas a little earlier than we wanted him to. But it was a good outing."

Tigers minor league outfielder Brennan Boesch was locked in the visitor's dugout bathroom for about 30 minutes before the game, until stadium workers pried open the door with a crowbar. "If it had been me, that door would have been down, because I'm claustrophobic," Leyland said.

"I've never seen that in all my years of baseball."

Leyland said he plans to mostly bat shortstop Edgar Renteria leadoff while centerfielder Curtis Granderson (broken finger) is out.

The Tigers manager said catcher Ivan Rodriguez might bat leadoff against left-handed pitchers.



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