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AMERICAN LEAGUE Royals subdue Indians for 4th straight win, best start since 1977



Published: Tue, April 8, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Tribe rookie pitcher Jason Davis lasted only three innings in the chilling wind.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- The Kansas City Royals are in unfamiliar territory.

Michael Tucker's two-run single capped a four-run second inning and the Royals won their fourth straight game to match the best start in franchise history, beating the Cleveland Indians 5-1 Friday night.

The 1977 Royals were the only other Kansas City club to stay unbeaten in the first four games, and they went on to win a team-record 102 games.

"I didn't know how long it had been since the Royals won their first four," said left-hander Chris George (1-0), who got his first major league win since 2001. "I just knew I didn't want to be the first guy here to get a loss."

Sole possession of top spot

It's only the first week of the season, but the Royals are in sole possession of first place for the first time since May 18, 1997.

"This is a great, great start for us," Tucker said. "I think it's safe to say nobody expected much of us this year."

The Royals, who started the cold, blustery night as one of only three unbeaten AL teams, swept Chicago in their first three games and led the Indians 5-0 after three innings.

George went 6 2-3 innings, giving up five hits and one run while walking one and striking out four.

Jason Davis, making his third major league start, lasted only three innings in the chilling wind. He gave up five runs, seven hits, hit a batter and threw two wild pitches.

The difference between this team and the Royals of the past couple of years is stark, George said.

"There are very few similarities in the attitude, the atmosphere in the clubhouse. We brought it with us from [spring training]," George said. "It started there. We feel like we're going to have a chance to win every time we go out there."

KC takes 4-0 lead

Raul Ibanez singled and Ken Harvey walked to open the second, then Angel Berroa and Mike DeFelice followed with RBI singles. The runners moved up on Davis' wild pitch. Tucker, who was only 1-for-13 coming in, then singled to center to make it 4-0.

"I let the game get away from me a little bit in the second inning," Davis said. "I was overthrowing and they were sitting on my fastball because I couldn't throw my slider or split for strikes."

Another wild pitch put Ibanez on third base in the third and Desi Relaford's groundout made it 5-0.

Casey Blake singled off George's glove with one out in the Cleveland fifth, went to second on a balk and scored on John McDonald's single.

Traber in debut

Billy Traber made his major league debut when he relieved Davis starting the fourth and walked his first batter. He went three innings and gave up one hit and three walks.

Royals' first baseman Mike Sweeney fouled a ball off his ankle in the sixth and was replaced in the field in the eighth by Mendy Lopez. The Royals said he was not seriously hurt.

"Traber was very impressive for his first time out there," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. "I think once he got comfortable he did an outstanding job running through those three innings."

Notes

The Indians and Royals both had good spring trainings. The Royals had the best record in Arizona, going 19-10, while Cleveland had the best Grapefruit League mark, 19-11. ... George made a great catch of Ellis Burks' line drive in the second, putting his glove in front of his face just in time to stop the ball. ... The Royals' 1977 team lost to the Yankees three games to two in the ALCS. ... Only eight players remain from the 2002 opening day roster for the Indians. ... Davis beat Kansas City 6-2 last Sept. 20 for his only career win. ... The Indians placed Jason Bere on the 15-day disabled list.




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