Westbrook, Cabrera lead Tribe to win
Righty allows one run through seven; Rookie hits first homer
ST. PETERSBURG -- Jake Westbrook has buried the frustrations of a difficult stretch this year that included struggles on the mound and during a seven-week absence from the starting rotation with an abdominal injury.
The Indians right-hander continued his mastery of the Devil Rays on Saturday night in an 8-1 victory, allowing only a run and two hits in seven innings. He struck out four batters and walked two en route to his third triumph in four outings after enduring a career-high eight consecutive starts without a win.
"Jake was outstanding again today. He's really stringing them together right now," manager Eric Wedge said. "I thought he did a real good job with his sinker, worked ahead, was very efficient out there."
Westbrook (4-7), who improved his career mark against Tampa Bay to 6-2, feels like a different pitcher than he was during the first half of the season.
"It was frustrating early on, but hopefully I can continue to pitch the way I have been," he said. "For me, it's just getting into a rhythm, pitching with confidence and also being able to locate my pitches. Right now, I'm comfortable. I feel good about where I am."
Asdrubal Cabrera put the game's first three runs on the board in the second inning, redirecting a 2-1 pitch from Rays starter Jason Hammel (1-3) into the right-field stands. The home run was the first for the switch-hitting rookie, who also delivered the deciding run in Friday night's 2-1 victory with a sacrifice fly.
"I hit it good," Cabrera said. "I was waiting for that pitch. They told me he would try to pitch inside and I looked right there for that pitch."
Three innings later, the Indians began adding insurance runs they never needed to extend their American League Central Division lead over the Tigers to a game and a half.
Grady Sizemore made it 4-0 with a solo home run off Hammel in the fifth. An inning later, relief pitcher Juan Salas drilled Ryan Garko in the hand with his first pitch and allowed him to score on singles by Jhonny Peralta and Kenny Lofton.
Cleveland added another run in the seventh, and two more off in the eighth off Jon Switzer.
In between, Tampa Bay scored its only run off Westbrook, whose ERA in his last five appearances is 2.06.
"He's been the Jake Westbrook that we know him to be, and even beyond that at times," Wedge said. "I would say tonight would qualify for that, if you look at how he pitched and the way he performed out there."
The Indians have won all but two of 17 games against the Rays since their last meeting in 2005. They have taken eight of nine this year, including the last seven.
Saturday's victory was accomplished with greater ease than usual in the season series, considering seven of the first eight games were decided by one or two runs.
"[The Rays] are never easy. They're an explosive club over there, so we don't assume anything," Wedge said. "We always anticipate it's going to be a tough game, and there have been a lot of tight ones."
Garko collected three of Cleveland's 15 hits, including a pair of doubles. Lofton, Sizemore, Peralta and Cabrera had two apiece.
Jensen Lewis and Aaron Fultz each pitched a scoreless inning in relief for the Indians, who have won three in a row for the first time since the All-Star break.
Bob Bellone is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.