ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Cliff Lee overcame early struggles and less-than-stellar stuff en route to another victory.
Lee tied the major league lead with his 15th win and the Cleveland Indians stayed unbeaten against the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays this season with a 5-2 victory last night.
"Honestly, I didn't have my best stuff," Lee said. "Most of the innings I felt I had to battle quite a bit. They put me to the test petty good."
Lee (15-2) went seven innings, giving up two runs and eight hits. The left-hander is 9-2 in 13 road starts.
Tampa Bay's five-game winning streak ended. The Rays, who went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position against Lee, are three games ahead of Boston in the AL East. The Red Sox lost 4-3 to Kansas City.
David Dellucci hit his 100th career homer for the Indians, who improved to 20-36 on the road. Cleveland is 5-0 against the Rays this season, including a four-game sweep at home July 10-13.
Rafael Perez pitched the final two innings to record his second save.
Akinori Iwamura drove in both runs for Tampa Bay, which fell to 43-17 at home. Tampa Bay is 26-60 all-time in games with Cleveland.
"For some reason we play really well against these guys," Dellucci said. "And when Cliff Lee is on the mound, you just follow his lead."
Rays left fielder Carl Crawford (sore left hamstring) and shortstop Jason Bartlett (right index finger) were out of the starting lineup. It's possible both might not start again tonight.
Kelly Shoppach put the Indians ahead 1-0 with an RBI double in the second. He made it 5-2 on a run-scoring single in the eighth, and has eight RBIs over his last seven games.
Cleveland took a 2-0 lead on Asdrubal Cabrera's third-inning solo homer.
Lee worked out of jams in the first and second innings, leaving five runners on base and holding Tampa Bay to 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position over the stretch.
"Fastball command. He throws the fastball where he wants to," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I see a guy pitching with a lot of confidence."
After needing just seven pitches to work a perfect third, Lee allowed a two-run, two-out single to Iwamura in the fourth that tied it at 2.
"He did a good job when he had to," Rays first baseman Carlos Pena said. "He's done an incredible job this year."
Dellucci hit a two-run shot to put Cleveland back up 4-2 in the fifth.
"Growing up, I never thought I'd hit one homer, let alone 100," Dellucci said. "It's just a sign that you played in the 'bigs' for a long time."
Tampa Bay starter Matt Garza (9-7) allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings. He is 0-3 with a 4.68 ERA in five games against Cleveland.
"I was off tonight," he said.
NOTES: Indians catcher Victor Martinez (strained left hamstring-right elbow) and infielder Josh Barfield (finger) could start minor league rehab assignments later this week.27.77118 -82.63932