Indians 4, Yankees 3

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CLEVELAND (AP)—Coco Crisp caused more commotion than a runaway squirrel.

Crisp dived headfirst for a go-ahead bunt single in the eighth inning that sent Cleveland over the New York Yankees 4-3 on Wednesday night, ending the Indians’ nine-game losing streak.

The Indians rallied for two runs in the eighth, providing an entertaining end to the 30,605 fans who spent much of the evening cheering for a squirrel.

“It was the Rally Squirrel. He was our secret weapon,” Crisp said. “They’ve got the Rally Monkey in Anaheim and we’ve got our guy.”

The little brown critter ran onto the field in the third inning, later darting between Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter.

He spent the rest of the game on the field. Play was held up several times, including in the seventh inning with Jeter at the plate and a runner on second. Several players smiled and grinned at the sight.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a squirrel hang out for entire ballgame like that,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said.

The Indians superimposed a team jersey over a photo of the squirrel on the giant television screen in center. Later, the squirrel appeared to be eating a peanut while nestling in the grass.

“I noticed he kept running away from (Gary) Sheffield,” Yankees manager Joe Torre quipped.

Cleveland trailed 3-2 when Tom Gordon (6-4) walked Ben Broussard and Casey Blake to start the eighth. Jody Gerut sacrificed both runners over and Ronnie Belliard’s sacrifice fly tied it.

Crisp then laid down a drag bunt past Gordon, diving headfirst to barely beat second baseman Enrique Wilson’s throw.

“My mindset was show some moxie and let’s get it done,” Crisp said.

He jumped to his feet after being called safe and pulled off his helmet.

“I was just so pumped up,” Crisp said. “I don’t really remember what I did after I slid. I was just so excited.”

Wedge raved about the play.

“Coco did it on his own,” he said. “That’s what you need in this situation—somebody to step up and have the guts to make something happen.”

David Riske (7-2) went 1 1-3 perfect innings and Rafael Betancourt got three outs for his third save in 10 chances. Gordon won the first two games of the series and was appearing in his fourth straight game.

“We felt comfortable sending him out there,” Torre said. “He’s our closer in the eighth inning. He’s used to being in trouble and pitching out of it.”

Gordon said he anticipated Crisp’s bunt, but couldn’t get to it.

“I’m disappointed because I didn’t get the job done,” he said. “The team fought back to get the lead. I felt fine. I just didn’t make all the pitches.”

The Yankees’ lead over Boston in the AL East was trimmed to 5 1/2 games when the Red Sox beat Toronto 11-5. Cleveland, which had been one game behind AL Central-leading Minnesota on Aug. 15, climbed back to .500.

“It felt great to stop the streak, but hopefully we’ll feed off this game and start a run back the other way,” Crisp said.

Kenny Lofton singled for his 2,000th career hit. The Yankees’ DH, who played nine seasons for Cleveland, got a standing ovation from the crowd and tipped his batting helmet while standing on first base.

New York lost for the first time in Orlando Hernandez’s nine starts. He changed speeds and confused Cleveland’s hitters all night, allowing two runs on five hits and four walks in six innings.

Indians starter Jake Westbrook allowed three runs—one earned—in six-plus innings.

Lofton and Bernie Williams doubled in the seventh to chase Westbrook and tie it at 2. Jeter bunted reliever Matt Miller threw wide of third trying to get Williams, allowing him to score for a 3-2 lead.

Matt Lawton doubled and scored on Travis Hafner’s groundout in the first. It was Hafner’s first RBI since Cleveland’s losing streak began.

Hideki Matsui doubled and scored on Wilson’s single in the second to tie it. Crisp singled and scored on Omar Vizquel’s double in the third to make it 2-1.


Rodriguez was hitless and 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position, including a double play. Rodriguez has only six RBIs this month, two in his last 14 games and none since Aug. 19. “It’s just one of those things where hits haven’t been coming in those situations,” he said. … The Indians had lost six straight to the Yankees dating to 2001. … Lofton was the DH for just the fourth time this season. Torre said he wanted to get Williams some time in center field. … The Indians acquired Westbrook in the July 2002 trade that sent David Justice to the Yankees. … Lofton had 1,463 hits with the Indians.

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