Indians 4, Cubs 2
“I grew up watching the guy,” Sizemore said. “I kind of wanted to go out there and have him sign my bat before I hit.”
Sizemore overcame his minor case of fandom by hitting a home run off Maddux and Cliff Lee outpitched and outlasted the future Hall of Famer—seems everyone has lately—as the Cleveland Indians snapped a four-game losing streak by beating the Chicago Cubs 4-2 on Tuesday night.
For Sizemore and Lee, just the chance to face Maddux was thrill. Getting a win for the struggling Indians was a bonus.
“Maddux is one of the guys I’ve tried to be like,” Lee said. “It’s something I can always say, I had a chance to beat Greg Maddux. He’s one of the best.”
Lee (6-5) allowed one earned run and six hits in 7 2-3 innings in his first career start against the Cubs. The left-hander, now 5-0 with a 3.31 ERA in eight career starts against NL teams, has bounced back nicely from a 1-4 record in May by going 3-0 with a 3.10 ERA in four starts this month.
The Indians made three first-inning runs off Maddux (7-7) stand up to win for just the third time in 12 games. Cleveland began the day a season-high 15 games out of first place in the AL Central, and an unspoken message was sent before the game to the Indians when No. 5 starter Jason Johnson was designated for assignment.
“Actions speak louder than words,” manager Eric Wedge said of the transaction that sent a tremor through Cleveland’s clubhouse. “Enough is enough. There’s nothing more than we can say about going out there and taking care of business. No excuses. That’s why it’s called professional baseball.”
Aramis Ramirez homered for the Cubs, who have lost seven of eight.
Maddux, pitching at Jacobs Field in the regular season for the first time, gave up four runs and seven hits in 7 1-3 innings and lost for the seventh time in 10 starts. After starting the season 5-0, Maddux is 2-7 with a 6.83 ERA since May 3.
In his only other appearance at the Jake, he lost Game 5 of the 1995 World Series.
“I pretty much lost it for us in one inning,” Maddux said. “I was down and I was falling behind. It took me too long to settle in. I felt good. I didn’t pitch bad except for the first inning.”
After allowing a two-out walk in the eighth, Lee was replaced by Rafael Carmona, who struck out Matt Murton. Bob Wickman, who blew two saves on Cleveland’s recent road 2-7 road trip, worked the ninth for his 10th save.
The Indians wasted no time getting to Maddux, scoring three runs on four hits in a first inning that could have been bigger except for some hard-hit balls that were caught.
“He’s a special pitcher,” Wedge said. “We had opportunities to do more in that inning, but against a guy like him you can’t get greedy.”
It’s a good thing the Indians started quickly because Maddux settled in and retired 11 straight before Sizemore opened the fifth with his 13th homer, a lined shot into the Cubs’ bullpen.
Sizemore joked that the connection probably cost him any shot at a Maddux autograph.
“Now, he might not sign the ball,” he said.
Chicago was handed its first run in the second when Belliard made two errors on one play at second. With Murton on at second, Belliard first stopped but dropped a grounder up the middle by Jacques Jones.
Murton never stopped running, and he scored when Belliard’s throw skipped to the backstop, also allowing Jones to take third.
Cleveland preserved Lee’s two-run cushion in the fifth when a relay from left that overthrew the cutoff man still turned into an out as third baseman Javier Vazquez fired home to get Jones at the plate.
“When they missed the cutoff man, I thought he was in there,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. “When you’re not scoring runs, you have to take chances.”
Thousands of loud Cubs fans made it a Wrigley-like evening. … The Kansas City Royals are the only team Maddux has not faced in his career. … A three-man umpiring crew worked most of the game after first base umpire Jerry Crawford left in the middle of the first with lower back tightness. … Maddux and Roger Clemens are the only members of the 300-win club to pitch at Jacobs Field. Clemens got a no-decision in seven innings for the New York Yankees in 2003.
- Indians 4, Cubs 2
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