Indians 4, Athletics 1

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CLEVELAND (AP)—Cliff Lee is making a strong case that he should be headed to the All-Star game.

Lee (9-1) outpitched Barry Zito, and Coco Crisp homered and drove in two runs to lead the Cleveland Indians over the Oakland Athletics 4-1 on Sunday.

“I don’t think about my record, about the All-Star game, or anything except keeping the other team from scoring runs,” Lee said. “I would be honored to go, but that’s not happening. It’s not my call.”

The left-hander gave up one run and six hits in seven innings to improve to 6-0 in nine starts at Jacobs Field. He walked three, struck out five and is 4-0 in seven starts since June 3.

“He’s like an All-Star for us, too,” said catcher Victor Martinez, one of five Indians who will be in Houston for the All-Star game on Tuesday night. “He pitched today like he has all season, smart and tough.”

Eight of Lee’s wins have come following a Cleveland loss.

Crisp had three hits, including his fifth homer and an RBI double, to help Cleveland win for just the third time in eight games and go into the break at 42-45.

Bob Wickman worked the eighth and got out of a jam with two on and no outs.

In the ninth, the A’s put runners on first and second with two outs, but David Riske got Eric Chavez to fly out for his fourth save in 10 chances.

Zito (4-7) gave up two runs and six hits over seven innings as Oakland lost its fifth in six games.

“Zito was very good,” Oakland manager Ken Macha said. “He had a problem with one hitter (Crisp) and that was it. Besides that, he was outstanding.”

Still, the left-hander fell to 0-4 with two no-decisions in his last six starts since beating Cincinnati on June 8.

“I’m frustrated with myself,” the 2002 AL Cy Young winner said. “I’ve got to get better. I’ve got to make better pitches.”

Lee did his best pitching to escape a bases-loaded threat in the seventh.

Damian Miller drew a one-out walk and took third on a double by Marco Scutaro. Mark Kotsay then came to bat hitting .750 (15-for-20) this season against Cleveland.

Though Kotsay had two singles in his first three times up against Lee, the left-hander pitched to him. Kotsay fouled off six consecutive pitches and drew an 11-pitch walk to load the bases.

“I thought that last one was a strike,” Lee said. “He’s so hot that walking him wasn’t all that bad—but I had to get the next two guys.”

Lee did—retiring Bobby Kielty on an infield pop and getting Chavez to ground out.

“Cliff really pitched well,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “He doesn’t back down. He goes the other way and turns it up a notch.”

In the eighth, Wickman allowed two singles, but got pinch-hitter Scott Hatteberg to hit into a double play and struck out Bobby Crosby.

Cleveland won despite making four baserunning mistakes. Jody Gerut, in an 0-for-19 slump, walked to open the third, but was picked off by Zito. He walked again in the fifth, but was thrown out trying to advance on a ball that got a few feet away from catcher Miller.

Crisp doubled home Ronnie Belliard with the go-ahead run in the sixth. He was promptly picked off by Zito, who stepped off the rubber, ran at the runner and tagged Crisp.

Crisp certainly would have scored on either a single by Martinez or double by Casey Blake—but both those runners were stranded when Travis Hafner struck out.

Blake then was caught rounding second too far with one out in the eighth, trying to advance on a two-run single to center by Hafner that put Cleveland ahead 4-1.

The A’s took a 1-0 lead in the third. Kotsay singled, Kielty walked, and Chavez poked a fly ball down the left-field line. Left fielder Matt Lawton appeared to fight the sun and made a lunge at the ball, which dropped inches fair and bounced into the stands for a run-scoring ground-rule double.

Crisp tied it 1-1 by hitting his fifth homer to lead off the fourth.


Zito is 2-1 with an 0.88 ERA and 32 strikeouts in four career starts against Cleveland. … Kotsay is hitting .379 (33-for-87) in day games. … Opponents are hitting only .163 (7-for-43) against Lee with runners in scoring position and two outs. … Oakland leads the AL in one-run games (29), going 16-13. … Cleveland activated RHP Rafael Betancourt (biceps) from the disabledlist and optioned LHP Cliff Bartosh to Buffalo before the game.

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