Westbrook ended the longest winless stretch of his career just in time for the sputtering Indians, who stopped a season-high, four-game losing skid with a 5-0 victory over the Texas Rangers on Thursday.
Westbrook (2-6) picked up his first victory since April 27—a span of nine starts—by allowing five hits in six innings. The right-hander, who signed a $33 million, three-year contract extension in April, spent nearly six weeks on the disabled list with a strained side muscle.
“That’s the way I expect myself to pitch,” Westbrook said. “I felt strong in my previous starts, but things just didn’t work out.”
Grady Sizemore celebrated his 25th birthday by driving in two runs against Kason Gabbard (4-1) and 40-year-old Kenny Lofton beat out an infield RBI single for Cleveland, which went just 3-7 on a 10-game homestand.
Fortunately for the Indians, their slide coincided with one by the first-place Detroit. The Tigers, who lead Cleveland by one-half game in the AL Central, have dropped 10 of 14.
“It’s better that it happened at this time and not late in September,” Lofton said.
Normally Cleveland’s center fielder, Sizemore made his second career start at designated hitter. And as usual, he was at the center of the action.
“He stepped up,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “Maybe he felt like he had to do a little more because he wasn’t in center.”
Victor Martinez homered for the Indians, who are scheduled to open a four-game series in Minnesota on Friday.
The Indians open a four-game series Friday night at Minnesota. The Twins’ game on Thursday against Kansas City was postponed after the collapse of the eight-lane Interstate 35W bridge, a major Minneapolis artery located near the Metrodome.
The Twins said Thursday that the series against the Indians would be played.
“The last I was told, everything was moving forward as planned,” Wedge said. “It’s a horrific scene up there and our thoughts and prayers are with everybody in Minneapolis.”
“We need wins right now,” Casey Blake said.
Gabbard was facing the Indians for the second time in a week, this time for a different team. The left-hander was acquired on Tuesday from Boston in the deal that sent closer Eric Gagne to the Red Sox.
“I treated it like any other start,” Gabbard said. “The only thing that was different was I had a different name on my uniform.”
Sizemore’s RBI single gave the Indians a 1-0 lead in the third.
Gabbard walked Franklin Gutierrez leading off and Josh Barfield sacrificed. A wild pitch—one of three by Gabbard—sent Gutierrez to third and he scored when Sizemore spanked a single through Texas’ drawn-in infield.
The Indians gave Westbrook a 2-0 lead in the fifth on Sizemore’s sacrifice fly.
Lofton’s speed helped the Indians, who haven’t been scoring much lately, make it 3-0 in the sixth.
Martinez was hit a by a pitch leading off and took second when Gabbard’s pitch skipped away from catcher Adam Melhuse. Martinez was held at third on Ryan Garko’s single, and was on his way to being left there when Gabbard got two outs.
Lofton, though, chopped a ball to short and barely beat former teammate Michael Young’s throw to score Martinez. Lofton was dealt to the Indians last week, one of many moves by the Rangers before the trading deadline.
“Kenny is Kenny,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “He knows how to play. He takes care of himself. That’s why he’s still here at the age of 40.”
Blake’s sacrifice fly made it 4-0 in the seventh, and Martinez followed with his 18th homer, snapping a 2-for-32 slump.
Westbrook, who has had a tendency to have one bad inning every time out, wriggled out of a jam in the first by getting Jason Botts to foul out and striking out Marlon Byrd with runners at second and third.
Lofton was back in center for the first time since beginning his third stint with the Indians. … The Indians will play 16 of their next 21 on the road. They’ll only be home for a three-game series with the New York Yankees (Aug. 10-12) and two with Detroit (Aug. 14-15). … The Indians celebrated the 17th birthday of Slider, their furry, purple, annoying mascot. … The Rangers won two of three in the series, but were denied their first sweep in Cleveland since 1992. … Texas has been shut out six times.