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Published: Monday, 5/5/2008

Indians' struggles continue in shutout by Royals

ASSOCIATED PRESS

CLEVELAND - A little over a month into the season and Cleveland manager Eric Wedge is searching for answers as the Indians struggle to score runs.

Yesterday's 2-0 loss to Kansas City provided even more frustration for Wedge. Gil Meche pitched seven shutout innings, and a throwing error by third baseman Casey Blake broke a scoreless tie in the fifth.

Cleveland, which was held to four hits, didn't advance a runner to third base and got only one runner to second. Following the game, Wedge hinted some roster changes might be ahead. The Indians have scored three runs or less 16 times in 31 games.

"We're in the middle of evaluating everything," he said. "We're looking at everything, and we're going to do whatever we possibly can do to make whatever adjustments we need to make."

Wedge has tried almost daily changes in the lineup, but the offense still hasn't produced.

"If we have to look beyond that, we're going to do it," he said.

Wedge has been particularly annoyed that his hitters continue to have poor at-bats game after game.

"We've got guys who have been here three, four, or five years," he said. "They're the ones that have to lead us through this."

Royals manager Trey Hillman believes Cleveland's offense is better than it's presently showing.

"We all know the Indians' bats are going to wake up," he said.

Despite going 2-for-3 yesterday, first baseman Ryan Garko is one of several slumping hitters, with five hits in his last 39 at-bats. However, he was able to find a bright side, even if it's stretching to locate one.

"Fortunately, everyone in the division is with us," he said. "No one is winning any games."

Minnesota (16-14) leads the AL Central. The Indians (14-17) are in third place 2 1/2 games out, despite losing five of seven.

Meche (2-4), who allowed eight earned runs and nine hits in 31/3 innings in a 15-1 loss to the Indians on April 22, was dominating this time. The right-hander gave up four hits, struck out four, and didn't walk a batter.

"This is what I've been waiting for," Meche said. "This is the game I really needed to see."

Going into the game, Meche was 2-7 with a 6.10 ERA in 13 starts against Cleveland.

Leo Nunez pitched a perfect eighth. Joakim Soria worked the ninth for his eighth save in eight chances. The right-hander hasn't allowed a run in 13 innings this season.

Miguel Olivo added a solo homer in the ninth for the Royals, who outscored the Indians 6-2 in sweeping the two-game series.

Blake's error made a loser of Aaron Laffey (0-2), who didn't allow a hit until Olivo singled with two outs in the fifth. After John Buck walked, Tony Pena Jr. hit what should have been an inning-ending grounder to Blake, who ranged to his left to field the ball. However, his throw to second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera was high and wide of the bag, sailing into right field and allowing Olivo to score.

"We caught a break to get the first run, but we had to be in position to catch a break too," Hillman said.

NOTES: Victor Martinez, the American League's leading hitter, extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a fourth-inning single. ... The Indians were blanked 1-0 by the Yankees last Sunday. ... Laffey didn't allow a hit through five innings in his first start against the Yankees.



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