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08/09/08 6:15 PM ET

Lesson learned, Garko rebounds

Cleveland (51-64) at Toronto (59-58), Sunday, 1:07 p.m. ET

TORONTO -- Ryan Garko got the message.

That was clear in the seventh inning Saturday, when he was plunked by a pitch from Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay and sprinted to first base.

Garko had stood in the batter's box and watched as a ground ball he hit down the first-base line rolled from foul to fair for an easy out in the second inning Wednesday against the Rays at Tropicana Field. He was immediately pulled from that game, and he was also benched in Friday's opener of the three-game set with the Jays that concludes Sunday afternoon at Rogers Centre.

Back in the lineup Saturday, Garko went 2-for-4 with two big RBIs and, just as important, proved to his manager and his teammates that he had learned his lesson.

"It's really nice to see," starter Paul Byrd said. "They say you can't ruin the good ones, but [getting benched] can mess somebody up. He's really responded to it, and that's nice."

Garko felt he had no choice.

"I made a mistake, I owned [up to] it, and I was pretty hard on myself these last couple days," he said. "But everybody makes mistakes and gets knocked down sometimes. It's about what you do when you get back up."

The 2008 season has found many ways to humble Garko, who is still trying to prove himself as the Indians' everyday starter at first base. He is batting just .241 with eight homers and 52 RBIs, and he's admitted he has a tendency to get in his own head when things aren't going well.

But after Wednesday's incident, Garko found he had plenty of friends to lean on.

"I've talked to a lot of my teammates and coaches," he said. "It's tough, because you never want to be a in a position where you feel like you're not being the kind of player you want to be. It was good, though. I have great teammates here. I want to beat myself up when I make a mistake, but a lot of my teammates picked me up. Now, it's just about moving forward."

Garko will move forward, and he'll remain in manager Eric Wedge's lineup.

"Hopefully he'll be a better ballplayer for going through something like this," Wedge said.

Pitching matchup
CLE: LHP Cliff Lee (15-2, 2.58 ERA)
Lee rebounded from perhaps his worst start in an otherwise stellar season by going seven innings, allowing just a pair of runs on eight hits with two walks and two strikeouts, in a win over the Rays on Monday. In doing so, he became the American League's first 15-game winner. The Rays had Lee on the ropes several times, and he needed 48 pitches just to get through the first two innings, but he never buckled. He pitched a gem against the Jays on May 12, giving up just seven hits in nine scoreless innings but nonetheless walking away with a no-decision.

TOR: RHP Scott Richmond (0-1, 4.91 ERA)
A late rally by the Blue Jays on Tuesday night helped Richmond avoid what would've been a second consecutive hard-luck loss. The 28-year-old rookie turned in an effective outing against the A's, allowing three runs on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings in his second career start in the Majors. Richmond struck out four and walked one in the no-decision.

The Indians have outscored the Blue Jays this season, 30-8, and are 5-1 against them. ... Jhonny Peralta is batting .387 (12-for-31) in August. ... Ben Francisco has notched a double in back-to-back games for the third time this season. He's recorded two or more hits in each of this series' first two games. ... Garko ranks third in the AL in number of times hit by pitch, with 11.

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Up next
• Monday: Orioles (Dennis Sarfate, 4-2, 4.58) at Indians (Fausto Carmona, 5-4, 4.46), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Tuesday: Orioles (Garrett Olson, 8-6, 6.06) at Indians (Jeremy Sowers, 1-6, 5.70), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Orioles (Jeremy Guthrie, 9-8, 3.26) at Indians (Anthony Reyes, 3-1, 3.86), 7:05 p.m. ET

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.