Tampa Bay (66-91) at Cleveland (92-65)

Cloudy Currently: Cleveland, OH
Temp: 64° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Wed Sep 28, 2005
  • TV: FSOH
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Cliff Lee has done nothing but win the last two months. No longer in sole possession of the wild card, the Cleveland Indians need their ace to continue doing just that.

Lee looks to win his 10th straight decision and help the Indians continue their playoff push when they play the middle game of their series against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Although they suffered a 5-4 loss on Tuesday, the Indians remained two games behind the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox, who lost 3-2 at Detroit. The loss, however, dropped Cleveland into a three-way tie with Boston and the New York Yankees in the wild-card race.

“We’ll just come back tomorrow and go at it again,” Indians outfielder Coco Crisp said.

After two more games against Tampa Bay, the Indians finish the regular season with three home games against the White Sox. Boston and the Yankees begin a season-ending three game series at Fenway Park on Friday.

“We need to remember the adversity that we overcame this year,” Indians right fielder Casey Blake said. “Hopefully, that will help us the next five games.”

Cleveland nearly rallied for another victory Tuesday after falling behind 5-1 after six innings. The Indians scored twice in the eighth, once in the ninth and had runners on first and third in the ninth, but Ronnie Belliard hit into a game-ending double play.

“We knew Cleveland would come back at us. What a big double play at the end,” Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. “This is a good win against a team that’s really been playing great.”

The Indians have lost two straight after winning 10 of 11. They will try to avoid their first three-game losing streak since Aug. 12-14 on Wednesday when Lee takes the mound.

Lee has been one of the best pitchers in the majors in the second half, going 9-0 in 12 starts since his last loss against the Yankees on July 8. His .818 winning percentage leads the AL.

The left-hander, however, hasn’t been as sharp in his last two starts, yielding 10 runs and 15 hits in 13 2-3 innings. He surrendered only eight runs in his previous six starts, spanning 41 innings.

The Devils Rays have won all four games this season at Jacobs Field, outscoring the Indians 22-12.

Tampa Bay, 38-30 in the second half, is assured of a winning record in the second half for the first time in its eight-year history.

Despite what will be another last-place finish in the AL East, Tampa Bay has a winning record against the Indians, Yankees, Los Angeles Angels and Oakland.

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Starting Pitchers

S. McClung Pit vs. C. Lee Phi
7-11 Record 18-5
6.59 ERA 3.79
92 K 143
62 BB 52
1.54 WHIP 1.22