Francisco, Tribe not to be denied
Outfielder's three-run shot turns game around as slide ends
CLEVELAND -- Ben Francisco got the message.If you're going to hit a three-run homer, it's best to make it convincing. Francisco, a day after his three-run homer off Kameron Loe was relegated to a one-run double because of an umpires' misjudgment, hit an indisputable three-run shot off Scott Feldman on Saturday night to push the Indians toward a 5-2 victory over the Rangers in front of a sellout crowd of 40,504 at Progressive Field. "It was nice to get it over the railing," Francisco said with a smile. "It was nice to get one that counts." The Indians felt the same way about this win, which was their first in eight games. Their season-high seven-game losing streak was built on bad nights from the offense, bad relief work from the bullpen and bad luck for the starters. But on this night, the bats picked up starter Cliff Lee, who was shaky early before reverting to his fine form of 2008. Lee (7-1, 1.50 ERA) gave up two early runs on ground-ball singles -- one off the bat of David Murphy in the first and another from Ian Kinsler in the second. Those were two of five hits and Lee allowed in that two-inning span, and he also walked a batter. "What he had in the first couple innings wasn't going to make it," manager Eric Wedge said. "[Lee's fastball] was up early." Lee began to right himself in the third. Wedge said the left-hander never really found his breaking ball, but he didn't need to, because his command of his fastball only improved as his 6 2/3-inning outing progressed. Actually, Lee wasn't just rebounding from his rough start to this game but the rough outing that preceded it. His loss in Cincinnati on Sunday marked the first time the opposition has really rattled Lee all year, but, in holding the Rangers scoreless from the third inning on, he didn't let the losing ways become a trend. "He's always been a great competitor," Wedge said. "The separator this year is his focus and concentration. He's pitching and working hard to recognize what he needs to do to be successful." Of course, a pitcher can't be successful without some support from his offense, and such support was a rare commodity over the course of the seven-game losing skid.
|"It was nice to get it over the railing. It was nice to get one that counts."|
|-- Ben Francisco|
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.