Indians 5, Yankees 2

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CLEVELAND (AP)—Jeremy Sowers knew their names, accomplishments and mystique just from watching them play on TV.

In person, the New York Yankees were just as impressive to Cleveland’s unflappable rookie.

“Getting a chance to face Rodriguez, Jeter and Johnny Damon,” he said. “That was a real pleasure.”

Not for the Yankees.

Sowers wasn’t shaken by New York’s aura or powerful lineup and picked up his first career victory, pitching seven strong innings to lead the Indians to a 5-2 win over the Yankees on Monday night.

Sowers (1-1), making his second major league start in front of the largest regular-season crowd at Jacobs Field in nearly six years (42,706), allowed a two-run homer to Jason Giambi in the first inning.

However, the 23-year-old left-hander shut down New York over the next six innings, mixing in some curves, sliders and changeups with a decent fastball to retire 13 of the final 14 batters he faced.

Sowers allowed six hits, struck out four—Giambi twice—and had one intentional walk.

“His composure was great,” Indians closer Bob Wickman said. “That’s one thing you can’t teach. He’s got it.”

Todd Hollandsworth hit a two-run homer off Chien-Ming Wang (8-4) and Victor Martinez had two RBIs for the Indians, who have won three straight games for the first time since June 1.

Cleveland third baseman Aaron Boone made two nice defensive plays behind Sowers, who went 9-1 with a 1.39 ERA at Triple-A Buffalo before being brought up on June 24.

Other than giving up Giambi’s 25th homer, Sowers was in command, showing remarkable poise against a team that scored 16 runs the night before and a lineup that can intimidate the most seasoned pitcher.

“It felt very nice,” Sowers said. “It couldn’t have come against a more prominent team. It feels good to beat the Yankees, but it would have felt good to get the first win against anybody.”

Fausto Carmona pitched a scoreless eighth and Wickman finished up for his 13th save.

The right-hander, who jarred himself on a misstep on the mound in the ninth, had to bounce off to the third base side to field pinch-hitter Kevin Reese’s high hopper with two runners on and throw to first for the final out.

“It’s been a while since I made a throw like that from that side of the mound,” Wickman said.

The Yankees didn’t arrive until nearly 5 a.m. following a rain-delayed, 16-7 Subway Series victory over the New York Mets on Sunday night. And, Sowers’ off-speed stuff kept their bats sluggish.

“We were ready to play,” said Yankees manager Joe Torre, who wasn’t impressed with plate umpire C.B. Bucknor’s strike zone. “That kid (Sowers) did a good job. He had a presence after Jason hit the home run. He changed speeds and threw a lot of strikes. He put the responsibility in our hands.

“The toughest part of the night was figuring out the strike zone—for everybody.”

The Indians, blanked by Wang for 7 1-3 innings on June 13 in New York, scored three times off the right-hander in the third to take a 3-2 lead.

Grady Sizemore singled and went to third on a beautiful hit-and-run single to right by Ronnie Belliard. Jhonny Peralta followed with an infield RBI single, and one out later, Martinez hit a two-run double over the head of left fielder Melky Cabrera, who didn’t get a good jump on what looked to be a catchable ball.

Sowers, who went five innings in his hyped debut against Cincinnati on June 25, was in early trouble but kept his composure and contained the Yankees.

The lefty gave up a leadoff single to Damon in the first, and then seemed to forget about New York’s center fielder, who easily stole second. One out later, Sowers had Giambi in a full count but gave up the slugger’s homer.

The Yankees loaded the bases in the third on a double, single and two-out intentional walk to Alex Rodriguez, but Sowers struck out Bernie Williams with a nasty breaking ball to keep Cleveland within two.

“That was a big pitch,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said.


Torre was hoping Rodriguez’s big game Sunday night against the Mets—a gland slam and three-run homer—will take some pressure off the third baseman, who has been booed in New York. While talking about Rodriguez with reporters, Torre said, “Hey, Alex, you want to take over here? I’m getting tired of all these questions.” Rodriguez smiled and said, “So am I, so am I.” … Sowers was the No. 6 overall pick in the 2004 draft. … Former Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar, who had a solo hit single with, “I Can’t Drive 55,” threw out the ceremonial first pitch. It wasn’t clocked at “55,” and it wasn’t close to the strike zone, either. … In his last 31 games, Belliard is batting .325 (39-for-120). … Yankees SS Derek Jeter went 2-for-4 and his hitting .395 (15-for-38) during a nine-game hitting streak.

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