Lee wins 15th game as Indians beat Tampa Bay 5-2
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—Cliff Lee overcame early struggles and less-than-stellar stuff en route to another victory.
“Honestly, I didn’t have my best stuff,” Lee said. “Most of the innings I felt I had to battle quite a bit. They put me to the test petty good.”
Lee (15-2) went seven innings, giving up two runs and eight hits. The left-hander is 9-2 in 13 road starts.
Tampa Bay’s five-game winning streak ended. The Rays, who went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position against Lee, are three games ahead of Boston in the AL East. The Red Sox lost 4-3 to Kansas City.
David Dellucci hit his 100th career homer for the Indians, who improved to 20-36 on the road. Cleveland is 5-0 against the Rays this season, including a four-game sweep at home July 10-13.
Rafael Perez pitched the final two innings to record his second save.
Akinori Iwamura drove in both runs for Tampa Bay, which fell to 43-17 at home. Tampa Bay is 26-60 all-time in games with Cleveland.
“For some reason we play really well against these guys,” Dellucci said. “And when Cliff Lee is on the mound, you just follow his lead.”
Kelly Shoppach put the Indians ahead 1-0 with an RBI double in the second. He made it 5-2 on a run-scoring in the eighth, and has eight RBIs over his last seven games.
Cleveland took a 2-0 lead on Asdrubal Cabrera’s third-inning solo homer.
Lee worked out of jams in the first and second innings, leaving five runners on base and holding Tampa Bay to 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position over the stretch.
“Fastball command. He throws the fastball where he wants to,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “I see a guy pitching with a lot of confidence.”
After needing just seven pitches to work a perfect third, Lee allowed a two-run, two-out single to Iwamura in the fourth that tied it at 2.
“He did a good job when he had to,” Rays first baseman Carlos Pena said. “He’s done an incredible job this year.”
Dellucci hit a two-run shot to put Cleveland back up 4-2 in the fifth.
“Growing up, I never thought I’d hit one homer, let alone 100,” Dellucci said. “It’s just a sign that you played in the ‘bigs’ for a long time.”
Tampa Bay starter Matt Garza (9-7) allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings. He is 0-3 with a 4.68 ERA in five games against Cleveland.
“I was off tonight,” he said.
The announced crowd at Tropicana Field was 17,049.
Indians C Victor Martinez (strained left hamstring-right elbow) ran the bases for the first time. Martinez and INF Josh Barfield (finger) could start minor league rehab assignment later this week. … The Rays will review the status of OF Rocco Baldelli (chronic muscle fatigue) Tuesday. “I don’t think he’s far off,” Maddon said. Baldelli worked out with the team before the game. … Maddon also said that LHP David Price, the first overall pick in the 2007 amateur draft and currently with Double-A Montgomery, could join the team later this season. “He’s on task to get here,” Maddon said. … Indians manager Eric Wedge said there is a chance RHP Anthony Reyes will be called from Triple-A Buffalo this month. … Cleveland could also bring up veteran right-handed reliever Brendan Donnelly from Buffalo before the season ends.