Indians unable to quiet Jays bats
Lee's rough outing dooms Cleveland in loss at Rogers Centre
TORONTO -- The Indians offense kept battling on Friday night, but the team's pitching struggled, and in the end neither was enough in a frustrating 8-6 loss to the Blue Jays.
"Our guys fought all the way to the end, even up to that last inning," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "But somebody's got to step up for us in terms of trying to turn the game around, and it's too little, too late. We've got to be better than that."
The Indians (51-35) are now tied with Detroit for the American League Central lead after the Tigers beat Boston. Toronto (42-43) moved to 11 games back of the Red Sox, and is still tied with the Yankees for second in the AL East.
Cleveland starter Cliff Lee (5-5) surrendered six (five earned) runs in four innings, but even then the game was not lost. Although the Tribe was facing off against the formidable Roy Halladay (10-3), the offense managed to score a run in the first, third and fourth, as well as a pair in the fifth, which cut the lead to 6-5.
"Halladay is one of the best," Wedge said. "He's like a warrior out there. I thought our guys did a good job against him. You know he's not going to give in."
One run was the closest Cleveland would come for the lead, due in part to an ineffective outing by the inconsistent reliever Fernando Cabrera.
Lee had a rough time on the mound and suffered his first loss in five starts. He allowed five runs (four earned) in the bottom of the second, and one more in the fourth, before turning things over to Cabrera to start the fifth. The struggling reliever didn't fare well, either, allowing the Jays to score twice in the fifth on an RBI triple by pinch-hitter Matt Stairs and a run-scoring double by Royce Clayton.
"Cabrera had another opportunity tonight and just wasn't able to keep it where he needed to keep it," Wedge said. "When Cliff gave up those five runs, that's one thing, but the other run [in the fourth] and then Cabrera gave up those two runs [in the fifth] when our guys are fighting back, that's when somebody's got to stop the bleeding."
Lee allowed six runs on six hits and issued three walks. He did not strike out a batter.
"Our offense did a great job," Lee said. "They scored enough runs to win. I can't go out there and give up five runs in the second. We pretty much lost today because of the way I pitched in the second."
Wedge was not as quick to blame his starter entirely.
"It wasn't all Cliff, but he's got to pick us up there," he said of the second inning. "It's not about five runs here. It's about what we do after -- it's about how we stop the bleeding after," he added.
Cabrera, gave up two runs on four hits to Toronto in two innings.
"We need somebody to be able to pitch in a tight ballgame," Wedge said. "Because the way our kids play, if we can keep it there, we're going to give ourselves a chance at some point in time in the ballgame to come back. We've proven that time and time again, but we've got to have somebody who can come in there and keep the game."
Lefty Scott Downs replaced Halladay after the starter surrendered five runs in 5 2/3 innings. Halladay walked one and struck out three, but he gave up nine hits. Downs pitched an inning and gave up a hit before Casey Janssen came on in the seventh.
Cleveland third baseman Casey Blake scored twice in the game and drove in two runs. He hit his 100th homer as a member of the Tribe in the third on a solo shot to left.
Toronto center fielder Vernon Wells scored twice and had three RBIs, including a solo homer in the fourth.
Victor Martinez hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth off Janssen to cut Toronto's lead to 8-6. A diving catch by Reed Johnson in left kept the Tribe in check.
"As competitors, we [want] a chance to tie it up in the ninth, and that's all you can ask for," Blake said.
On Saturday, Cleveland sends righty Fausto Carmona (9-4, 3.78 ERA) to the mound against righty Shaun Marcum (4-2, 2.86 ERA).
Stephanie Geosits is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.