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Published: Monday, 4/14/2008

Lee's gem lifts Indians

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Jamey Carroll, left, greets Grady Sizemore at home after they each scored on a single by Travis Hafner in the third inning. Jamey Carroll, left, greets Grady Sizemore at home after they each scored on a single by Travis Hafner in the third inning.
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CLEVELAND - Cliff Lee had an easy time shutting down the Oakland Athletics.

Pitching quickly and efficiently in the wind and cold, Lee helped the Cleveland Indians end Oakland's five-game winning streak with a 7-1 victory.

"It was miserable, wasn't fun, and as cold as its ever been for me playing ball," Oakland second baseman Mark Ellis said. "The hardest part was when the wind kicked up. You didn't want to be on defense too long."

Two-run doubles by Grady Sizemore and David Dellucci in the eighth helped the Indians win for only the third time in 10 games and avoid their first three-game sweep at home to the Athletics since September, 1989.

After a 48-minute delay at the start, Lee (2-0) repeatedly got his teammates out of the cold - 38 degrees with a 28-degree wind chill at gametime - and back into Cleveland's warm dugout, allowing only one run and two hits over eight innings. The left-hander struck out eight without a walk, working in an intermittent wind-whipped mix of snow and rain.

"It didn't bother me, but I definitely wouldn't want to be a hitter today," Lee said. "I just tried to throw a strike and hopefully they'd try to hit a home run. It wasn't going out in that wind."

Indians manager Eric Wedge explained the delay, even though it didn't rain, was due to a foreboding forecast.

"We really lucked out," Wedge said. "It was swirling all around, supposed to hit at 11:30 [a.m.], then a little later. We didn't want both starting pitchers to warm up, then have to sit. We finally just decided to go out and try it."

Lee didn't mind waiting to make his second straight strong start against the A's. On April 6 in Oakland, he yielded four hits and an unearned run over 62/3 innings in a 2-1 victory. That win was his first since July 1 - during a season in which the former 18-game winner started on the disabled list with an abdominal strain, then went only 5-8 with a 6.29 ERA. He even was sent back to the minors to try and regain the form that had won 44 games over the previous three seasons.

"I had a bad year, and I've been anxious to get back and give my team a chance to win games," Lee said. "Facing them twice in a row, I knew what it took to be successful. Then again, they had a fresh scouting report on me too. At the start, I said, 'Let's attack them the same way.' And it worked."

Lee retired the first nine Oakland batters before Travis Buck tripled between first baseman Ryan Garko and the foul line to open the fourth. Buck scored on a weak ground single by Ellis. Shortstop Jhonny Peralta tried to make a bare-handed scoop and throw, but he couldn't handle the ball.

Lee then got Daric Barton to hit into a double play and retired the last 15 men he faced.

A favorable bounce could have turned either Oakland hit into an out.

"I'd love to throw a no-hitter or perfect game," Lee said. "Right now, it's more important for me to just get some wins."

Travis Hafner's two-run single with two outs in the third, the first hit of the game, gave Cleveland a 2-0 lead against Chad Gaudin (0-1). It scored Jamey Carroll, who was hit by a pitch, and Sizemore, who walked.

An error by Gaudin helped make it 3-1 in the fifth. Carroll singled and Gaudin bobbled a sacrifice by Andy Marte, then threw wildly to first, sending Carroll to third. Sizemore followed with an RBI single.



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