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08/20/08 1:04 AM ET
Tribe rides trio of long balls to win
Reyes get support from Sizemore, Garko and Choo
By Andrew Gribble / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- Five-dollar haircuts and $1 hot dogs weren't the only values to take away from Tuesday's game between the Indians and Royals at Progressive Field. For the 18,946 fans who braved the unseasonably chilly August weather, there was some redeeming value by the way the Indians played on this night. The Tribe's starting pitching, its offense and even its bullpen put together a solid effort in a 9-4 win over the Royals. The win helped the Tribe expand its fourth-place lead over the Royals in the American League Central by 2 1/2 games. "I felt like we played a pretty good baseball game tonight," manager Eric Wedge said. "Pretty good" might be the best way to describe Anthony Reyes' night on the mound. Reyes gave up just two runs to pick up his second win since he was called up from Triple-A Buffalo on Aug. 8. But the 26-year-old right-hander lasted just five innings this time out -- the result of a tough first inning and a bloated pitch count. "I think I'm getting there," Reyes said. "I've had a lot of bad outings over the past couple of years, so I'm just trying to come over here and get rid of them." Reyes just couldn't get rid of the Royals in a timely manner during the first inning, using almost a third of his 84 pitches against five hitters. The only damage to show for it, though, was a lot of foul balls and David DeJesus' RBI double, which staked the Royals to an early 1-0 lead. But, as has been the theme throughout this 10-game homestand, the Tribe picked up Reyes with a three-run second inning off Royals starter Luke Hochevar. Shin-Soo Choo got it started with his fifth home run of the season -- a 415-foot solo shot to left-center field. The Indians tacked on two more when Kelly Shoppach drove in Ryan Garko with an RBI double and Asdrubal Cabrera followed with an RBI single to take a 3-1 lead. Ryan Garko continued his recent hot streak, adding another run to the cause with a solo homer in the fourth inning -- his 10th of the season. Since Garko was benched for not running out a ground ball in a game against the Rays two weeks ago, he is batting .405 with 12 RBIs. "He's really stepped it up," Wedge said. "His approach has been more consistent and his discipline has been a little better. He's really grinding it out." Reyes had to grind it out through his outing, never putting together a 1-2-3 inning. But, aside from a Jose Guillen RBI groundout in the fifth inning, Reyes was tough when he needed to be. The Indians just didn't need or want him on the mound too long. Since he was acquired from the Cardinals on July 26, the Indians have been careful with Reyes, who was sidelined for three weeks with a right elbow strain in June. He has thrown less than 90 pitches in two of his three starts. "It was a little cooler tonight, too," Wedge said. "He worked pretty hard and our bullpen was well-rested, so it was a good time to get them out there." But, no matter how much rest the Tribe bullpen has, a two-run lead is far from safe. Tuesday night proved to be no different, as Brendan Donnelly put the team on shaky ground, allowing an RBI single to Jason Smith to trim the lead to one, 4-3. But the play actually provided the Tribe with a little momentum, as Choo's one-hop throw to third base gunned down Miguel Olivo, helped stifle the rally and kept the Tribe on top. "That was a great throw," Wedge said. "Just a perfect throw." Grady Sizemore made the night less stressful for relievers Rafael Perez, Rafael Betancourt and Masa Kobayashi with his three-run homer in the sixth inning. With runners on second and third with two out, Sizemore ripped a Leo Nunez first-pitch changeup deep into the right-field seats to put the Tribe up by four comfortable runs, 7-3. "That was a big hit for us today," Wedge said. "You have to love the way he plays. He's been the one constant in a very trying season." Sizemore actually came into the game in the midst of his biggest slump of the season. He is batting just .190 in August and his home run Tuesday was his first since July 31. "He picked a good time for it," Wedge said. The same goes for those who made it out to Progressive Field on Tuesday night and left with plenty of bang for their buck.
Andrew Gribble is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.