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Published: Saturday, 9/13/2008

Lee notches No. 22 in Indians win

ASSOCIATED PRESS

CLEVELAND Another victory under his belt, Cliff Lee emerged from his postgame shower, walked to his locker and began getting dressed.

He slipped on a T-shirt that said: Ace of Spades.

Right now, he s the ace of baseball.

Lee won his 11th straight decision and moved 20 games over .500 with his 22nd win, leading the Cleveland Indians past the Kansas City Royals 12-5 last night.

Unbeaten in 12 starts since July 11, Lee (22-2) allowed four earned runs in 81/3 innings to win his eighth straight start.

He s 5-0 in five outings against Kansas City, which was also Lee s opponent for wins No. 4, 8, 18, and 21. Luckily, the Royals won t have to face the left-hander again until next season.

I m tired of that guy, Royals center fielder David DeJesus said with a laugh.

It s almost unthinkable to remember that Lee, who was demoted to the minor leagues last season and was left off Cleveland s 2007 postseason roster, had to win a spot as the Indians fifth starter during spring training.

Lee is the first pitcher to have 20 more wins than losses since Oakland s Bob Welch in 1990.

Lee s season is the best Indians manager Eric Wedge has ever seen.

I know there have been some tremendous pitching seasons by starting pitchers over the years, Wedge said.

But this is without a doubt nothing like I ve ever seen.

It s very remarkable, Royals manager Trey Hillman said. He s an outstanding pitcher. You can t do what he s doing by accident. You have to be focused from pitch to pitch.

Lee s streak is the longest by an Indians pitcher since Gaylord Perry won 15 straight decisions in 1974.

He was almost machinelike in his efficiency.

Lee did not go to a single three-ball count and was three outs away from his fifth complete game when the Royals, who collected 11 hits, scored three runs off him in the ninth.

Lee barely cracked a smile when he was asked if he d ever lose again.

I don t know, he said. I m going to try not to. I m just trying to give myself a chance every time out. Lee will likely make three more starts, and he says he is hoping to finish a season no one saw coming.

It s not over yet, said Lee, the first pitcher to reach 22 wins since Dontrelle Willis in 2005. So far, it s going pretty good. But I m not going to start patting myself on the back yet.

Jose Guillen homered twice off Lee for Kansas City.

Kelly Shoppach had three RBIs off Gil Meche (11-11), Shin Soo-Choo homered and drove in three, and Grady Sizemore and Asdrubal Cabrera had two RBIs apiece for the Indians.

Shoppach pulled an 0-1 pitch from Meche over the left-field wall to make it 2-1 in the third.

NOTES: Lee is one win shy of matching Vean Gregg (1911) for the most wins in a season by a Cleveland left-hander. ... Royals OF Mitch Maier, who had three facial bones broken when he was hit by a pitch on Kansas City s last visit to Cleveland, was activated from the 15-day disabled list but did not play.



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