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Carrasco works out of a bases-loaded jam

NEW YORK -- The Indians' offense has extended its vacation for one more day. Cleveland can live with such things if its men on the mound can deliver the way that Carlos Carrasco did on Monday night in the Bronx.

Carrasco seems to be the cure for the Tribe's ailing lineup.

Carrasco was making his first career trip into Yankee Stadium, but he refused to let the venue swallow him up and spit him out like it has done to so many young starters before him. Instead, Carrasco assumed the role of magician, escaping from jams and guiding the Tribe to a 1-0 victory over the Yankees.

"I can't say enough about the job he did," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "It's very tough against this lineup, in this ballpark, to keep them down like that."

Carrasco's seven-inning performance, combined with a lock-down effort by Cleveland's bullpen, snapped a four-game losing streak for the Indians. With the win, the Tribe maintained its position atop the American League Central for at least one more day, making it 68 days in a row in first place.

Finding the win column has not been easy of late for the Tribe (35-29), which has won just five times in the past 19 games and twice in the past 11 contests. Along the way, Detroit has stormed up the standings and pulled into a virtual tie for first place.

The Tribe heads to Motown on Tuesday to open an important three-game set.

If there was ever a must-win game in June, this might have been it.

"We lost four games in a row," Carrasco said. "Today is the beginning. Tomorrow we need to win, and the next day and the next day. We're starting a very good series tomorrow."

Indians closer Chris Perez echoed Carrasco's comments.

"We needed to start turning it around today," Perez said. "We got a heck of a game from Cookie."

Cookie?

"Yeah, Cookie Carrasco," Perez said with a laugh. "He really likes cookies. He's going to have a lot of them on the plane tonight."

Carrasco will probably be allowed to have as many as he wants.

In his past two starts, Carrasco has allowed no runs across 15 1/3 innings. He's also notched a pair of wins -- Cleveland's only victories over the past 11 games. Both wins were of the 1-0 variety. Carrasco picked up the same with a strong showing against the Twins in Cleveland last Tuesday.

Does that make him the Tribe's new stopper?

"It's too early to consider him a stopper," Acta said with a chuckle.

Over seven innings Monday, Carrasco scattered five hits and issued three walks, but the Indians' right-hander controlled the damage effectively. Carrasco allowed eight hitters to reach base in the first three innings combined, but he escaped unscathed at each turn. In all, the righty struck out seven in a 100-pitch effort.

Carrasco struggled with his fastball command early, but survived behind good location with his slider and curveball. In his recent outings, he has also relied less on his changeup, which he was "falling in love with" earlier this season, according to Acta.

The changes have paid dividends.

"He never gave in -- kind of bend, don't break," Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "We didn't come through early when we had chances."

The Yankees (36-28) certainly has plenty of those.

In the first inning, Carrasco (6-3) allowed back-to-back singles to Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson before walking Teixeira to load the bases with no outs. It looked like the beginning of an early meltdown, one that would put New York in a position to cruise to a sweep of the four-game set.

Carrasco did not let that happen.

First, Carrasco induced a fly ball to shallow center field off the bat of slugger Alex Rodriguez. Cleveland center fielder Michael Brantley hesitated to throw the ball back in, but Jeter did not attempt to score. Then, Carrasco struck out Robinson Cano and forced Nick Swisher to ground out to end the threat.

Carrasco also freed himself from two-on, one-out jams in both the second and third innings. In the third, Swisher chopped a pitch from the right-hander to Indians second baseman Cord Phelps to initiate an inning-ending double play.

"I think that's a big step in his career, actually," Perez said. "He showed some good stuff out there tonight. He was bearing down, making pitches against some pretty good hitters. They didn't really make solid contact all night."

Neither did the Indians' hitters for that matter.

Against Yankees right-hander A.J. Burnett, who logged 7 2/3 solid frames, the Tribe managed just one run. It marked the 13th time in the past 19 games that the Indians scored two or fewer runs in a game. Over that time period, Cleveland has averaged just 2.8 runs per contest.

Prior to Monday's game, Acta shook up his lineup dramatically, moving Brantley into the third spot and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera into the four hole. In the fourth inning, Brantley tripled off Burnett and Cabrera brought him home with a base hit to left field.

"Both guys were in the middle of it," Acta said. "They've been pretty consistent -- both of them. It's just a matter of getting a couple more guys involved in our offense like we were a couple of weeks ago."

Fortunately, the contributions from Brantley and Cabrera proved to be enough for Carrasco and Cleveland's bullpen. Setup men Tony Sipp and Vinnie Pestano blanked the Bombers in the eighth, and Perez breezed through the ninth inning with three strikeouts to collect his 16th save of the season.

The arms took the heat off the Indians' bats.

"They bought one more day for our offense," Acta said.

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