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Published: 6/11/2010

Kearns hits 2 homers as Indians top Nationals

ASSOCIATED PRESS

CLEVELAND — Austin Kearns' good health has the Cleveland Indians feeling fine too.

Kearns drove in four runs with two homers against his former team as the Indians beat the Washington Nationals 7-2 Friday night.

“Austin is the ultimate pro and it's good to see him healthy,” Indians manager Manny Acta said.

Travis Hafner also homered to help give Acta a win in his first game against the team that fired him last July 13. That was only a month after Washington drafted Stephen Strasburg. The right-hander, coming off a sensational 14-strikeout debut, will make his first road start tomorrow in Cleveland.

Jake Westbrook (4-3) gave up two runs over 71/3 innings as Cleveland won for the fourth time in five games, depriving Washington of its first four-game winning streak.

Kearns hit a three-run shot off Luis Atilano (5-3) in the first inning. He hit the first pitch of the fourth for a 5-1 lead and his fourth multiple homer game, first since June 4, 2006, at Houston.

“Before we came in here I was glad to see him doing well,” Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. “I wish we had done a better job on him tonight.”

Kearns holds no animosity toward the Nationals, who made him a free agent in November. He signed a minor-league deal with Cleveland in January and is playing regularly with outfielder Grady Sizemore out for the year after knee surgery.

“It doesn't matter which team it is, I want to win, not just against them,” he said.

The 30-year-old was limited to 80 games a year ago by a right thumb injury that required surgery in August. The previous year, he had right elbow surgery and played only 86 games.

Kearns' bid for a third homer was caught by leaping center fielder Nyjer Morgan at the wall in right-center in the seventh.

“I knew it was going to be close, but I'm not surprised Nyjer came up with it,” Kearns said. “He can play.”

Cleveland catcher Carlos Santana went 0 for 3 with one run and a walk in his big-league debut. The switch-hitter, who hit .310 with 57 homers and 265 RBIs in 317 minor-league games, was called up from Triple-A Columbus — and quickly tested on defense.

Morgan opened the game with a single and took off for second on the first pitch to Ivan Rodriguez. Santana, converted from an infielder to catcher in 2007, threw out the speedster with a quick, accurate throw.

“Wow,” Santana said through an interpreter. “That felt good. I knew it was a team that could run.”



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