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Published: Saturday, 6/7/2008

Indians top Tigers; Byrd gets 100

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Casey Blake and Ryan Garko high fi ve after the Indians defeated
the Tigers in the opener of their three-game series. Casey Blake and Ryan Garko high fi ve after the Indians defeated the Tigers in the opener of their three-game series.
DUANE BURLESON / AP Enlarge

DETROIT - He has an unorthodox, old-school pitching motion, where his hands converge over his head as he rocks back.

He wears his socks high, and his fastball floats more than it speeds toward home plate.

Say what you will about Cleveland Indians pitcher Paul Byrd, but know this: He's now a member of the 100-win club.

Byrd survived two solo homers in seven innings and pitched the Tribe to a 4-2 victory over the Tigers. He picked up his 100th-career victory in his fourth try, and is now 100-86 in 12 big-league seasons.

"Greg Maddux isn't feeling any heat or anything, but for me it's a big deal," Byrd said last night in the visitor's clubhouse at Comerica Park, a bottle of champagne at the foot of his locker. "I'm very happy with that. I love playing major league baseball, and for me to win 100 games, it's really nice for me."

Byrd (3-5) allowed four hits, including homers by Brandon Inge in the sixth inning and by recent Toledo call-up Jeff Larish in the seventh. Inge was playing for the first time since Sunday because of a pulled muscle in his left side, and Larish's blast was the first of his short big-league career.

The only other hits off Byrd were Carlos Guillen's single in the first and Miguel Cabrera's lead-off double in the fifth. Masa Kobayashi pitched a perfect eighth, and closer Joe Borowski worked around Guillen's one-out single in the ninth by retiring Magglio Ordonez on a fly to right and striking out Cabrera for his fifth save.

The Tigers (24-36) have lost four straight and fell to 1-33 when scoring four-or-less runs.

"I'm seeing it, but I'm not necessarily believing it," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said of his shockingly inconsistent offense, which has managed 10 runs total in the Tigers' last four games. "It's almost like a mystery to me. I'm totally shocked we haven't done better offensively. That's probably putting it mildly."

The Indians (28-33) scored three runs off Detroit starter Justin Verlander in the fourth. They loaded the bases with one out on a single and two walks, and Casey Blake came through with a two-run double. Franklin Gutierrez followed with an RBI single.

Cleveland first baseman Ryan Garko added a run in the eighth with a solo homer off Denny Bautista, who was just called up from his rehab assignment with Toledo.

"It was good to get that big insurance run so one swing doesn't tie it," Garko said. "But tonight was about Byrdie. He really pitched great for us, and to get 100 wins is really great."

Of Byrd, Indians manager Eric Wedge said he's "always been able to command the baseball," but also admitted his pitching style was "a little unorthodox."

Speaking before the game about his team in general, Wedge said the Indians started to relax a little during their four-game series in Texas, perhaps forgetting about the pressure they've put on themselves while struggling in defense of their American League Central Division title.

Blake was easy going enough last night to poke fun at Byrd.

"A couple hundred more [wins] and he's a Hall of Famer, maybe," Blake said.

Contact Joe Vardon at:

jvardon@theblade.com

or 419-410-5055.



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