Indians 2, Blue Jays 0
CLEVELAND (AP)—Chad Durbin is relieved to be starting.
“I’m feeling a lot more confident, a lot more comfortable,” said Durbin (5-4), who pitched out of the bullpen earlier this season.
He gave up three walkoff homers and had a 7.63 ERA in nine relief outings, but improved to 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA over three starts since being recalled from the minors July 22.
Durbin allowed four hits and three walks in seven innings as Cleveland, second to Minnesota in the AL Central, won for the sixth time in seven games. He was helped by good fielding plays from shortstop Omar Vizquel and left fielder Coco Crisp.
“That was great defense,” Durbin said. “No doubt they helped me. A lot.”
Bob Howry pitched the eighth and Bob Wickman finished the five-hitter for his fifth save in six chances. Wickman was unavailable Monday night when he felt tightness in his upper back while warming up during a 13-11 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
Cleveland (59-55) moved four games over .500 this late in the season for the first time since 2001. The Indians are 41-29 since May 27.
Toronto, blanked for an AL-high 10th time, dropped to 1-1 under manager John Gibbons, who replaced the fired Carlos Tosca on Sunday. The Blue Jays have lost eight of their last 11.
Toronto starter David Bush (1-3) gave up two runs and eight hits over seven innings, struck out seven and walked none.
Cleveland went ahead in the second after Ben Broussard singled and Casey Blake followed with a high chopper off the plate. Bush fielded it, but lost his footing and Blake was safe with a single. Crisp sacrificed, and Belliard grounded a double down the third-base line.
“I hung a curveball with two guys on base,” Bush said. “It was such a bad pitch that I thought he might not swing at it. It was up around his head, but he lined it down the line.”
Durbin escaped trouble in the fourth when Gabe Gross popped out on a 3-2 pitch with two out and two on.
Vizquel, a nine-time Gold Glove winner, made a diving backhanded catch of a sharp line drive hit by Vernon Wells in the sixth. Carlos Delgado followed with a drive off the wall in left-center that likely would have scored Wells.
“A great play,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “We’ve seen him do that a lot over the years.”
With one out in the seventh, Crisp made a diving catch of a blooper by Gross.
Howry was helped by good defense, too, when Blake turned Wells’ sharp grounder to third into an inning-ending double play in the eighth.
“That was real big for us,” Wedge said. “Blake had to be strong with his throw, and Ronnie made a good turn at the bag at second.”
Belliard extended his hitting streak to 11 games and has an AL-leading 39 doubles. … Toronto fell to 19-38 in road games. … Toronto’s Eric Hinske went 0-for-4 and is in a 1-for-19 slide. Gibbons said Frank Menechino will start Wednesday night in place of Hinske. … Broussard went 2-for-3 and is hitting .352 (38-for-108) in his last 39 games.