CLEVELAND (AP)—Cliff Lee is going to the All-Star game on another shutout streak.
Cleveland’s left-hander pitched six stellar innings in a warmup for a possible All-Star start at Yankee Stadium as the Indians defeated Tampa Bay 5-0 on Friday night to extend the Rays’ season-high losing streak to five games.
“I’m just happy to be going,” Lee (12-2) said of being selected to the AL squad for the first time. “If they choose me to start, I’d be ecstatic and honored. I’m just planning to show up and try to do all I can to help my team win.”
“He’s deserving of (an All-Star) start,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said.
The Indians entered the four-game series on a 10-game losing streak—their longest in 29 years—but have claimed consecutive wins for the first time since June 26-27.
“It’s surely messing up our seven-game winning streak,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Tampa Bay had won seven a row to open a five-game lead in the AL East on July 6. A 10-inning loss Monday to Kansas City started the Rays on their current slide, in which they’ve been outscored 32-7 and had their lead trimmed to 1 1/2 games over the Boston Red Sox.
“I’m not concerned,” Maddon said. “We’ll get through this. You’re not going to be void of these moments in a season. They’re going to happen.”
Lee allowed five hits and struck out seven, improving to 5-0 with a 1.62 ERA in seven home starts. It was the sixth time in 18 starts he didn’t allow an earned run.
His only walk was to Akinori Iwamura to start the game—his second to a left-handed batter in 124 2-3 innings this season. Lee then struck out the next three batters.
Tampa Bay put its leadoff hitter on base each time through four innings.
“I seemed to pitch better out of the stretch all night,” Lee said. “I’ve had a good first half, but I also got some breaks and there’s a lot of things I could do better. Not allowing the first guy in an inning to reach all the time would be good.”
Shields, seeking to win his fourth straight start, instead gave up five runs and 10 hits over six innings.
“I felt I pitched well,” Shields said. “I can count four hits that easily could be outs. That’s going to happen. It’s part of the game. I probably made about four bad pitches.”
In the third, Francisco, who had a career-high four RBIs in Cleveland’s 13-2 win Thursday, hit a two-out double. Peralta then drove a 2-0 pitch the opposite way into the Rays’ bullpen in right for his 15th homer and 3-0 lead.
Peralta is 5-for-11 with three homers and seven RBIs in his career against Shields.
“I don’t think he likes me too much,” Peralta said. “I don’t know why, but I can see the ball good against him.”
Francisco made it 4-0 in the fifth with a double high off the wall in center, scoring Jamey Carroll, who had singled.
Grady Sizemore, who will join Lee in the All-Star game on Tuesday night, doubled to lead off the seventh for his first hit in 12 career at-bats against Shields. Sizemore scored on Carroll’s single up the middle.
Tampa Bay has hit .192 (33-for-172) with 48 strikeouts during its losing streak. Iwamura and Carl Crawford, the top two hitters in the order, are a combined 5-for-50 (.100).
“When you don’t hit, the whole team looks bad,” Maddon said. “When you don’t score runs, you put a lot of pressure on your pitching staff.”
After the game, Cleveland optioned RHP Brian Slocum to Triple-A Buffalo and called up RHP Matt Ginter to start Saturday night. … Rays rookie 3B Evan Longoria, who has 16 homers, will participate in the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium on Monday night. … Indians RHP Fausto Carmona, out since May 24 with a strained left hip, is scheduled to start a rehab assignment Monday at Class A Lake County. … Rays manager Joe Maddon said RHP Troy Percival will test his strained left hamstring by throwing off the mound Saturday. … Rays RHP Al Reyes (shoulder tendinitis) pitched one scoreless rehab inning for Class A Vero Beach on Thursday. … Rays SS Jason Bartlett (sprained right knee) swung a bat and fielded grounders Friday, but his lateral movement still isn’t 100 percent, Maddon said.