INDIANS C.C. Sabathia celebrates homecoming with win



The Tribe's left-hander threw seven strong innings in a 4-2 win in Oakland.
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Thanks to $2 Ticket Night, C.C. Sabathia's homecoming was a financial success even before he beat the Oakland Athletics.
Sabathia pitched seven strong innings for his first victory in nearly four weeks, and Angel Santos hit his first major league homer Wednesday night as the Cleveland Indians beat the A's, 4-2.
It was an exciting homecoming for Sabathia (9-6), a native of nearby Vallejo. His season has featured the highs of his first All-Star selection and the lows of his father's undisclosed illness, which has forced the Cleveland left-hander to leave the team twice this month.
Sabathia had a huge Coliseum rooting section of friends and family members -- including his mother and his effusive godmother, who stood and cheered with nearly every pitch as he beat the A's for the first time in five career starts.
"I only had to leave 40 [tickets] because it was $2 night," Sabathia said with a grin, referring to Oakland's Wednesday ticket discounts. "If it was a regular night, I would have had to leave about 150, so $2 night helped me."
Streak snapped
Sabathia allowed nine hits as the Indians snapped a five-game losing streak in Oakland. He didn't appear in the All-Star game, and he had lost his last three starts while worrying about his father and dealing with the pressures of being a 22-year-old staff ace.
"I wasn't surprised, but I was proud of the way he was able to separate things," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. "He's a leader on this team. You could just see the determination and focus in his eye tonight."
Milton Bradley and Victor Martinez drove in runs as the Indians won in Oakland for the first time this season.
David Riske pitched the eighth, and Danys Baez finished for his 23rd save in 29 chances.
Lilly loses
Sabathia outpitched Ted Lilly (6-9), who allowed six hits while striking out five in seven innings. Lilly, rumored to be trade bait during a disappointing season, lost for the fourth time in five decisions.
Scott Hatteberg had a run-scoring double and Erubiel Durazo hit a sacrifice fly, but Oakland couldn't string together any rallies.
The A's also made a series of blunders in their second home game following a 12-game road trip.
Lilly retired nine straight batters before Casey Blake started a fourth-inning rally with a double, which was made possible by Eric Byrnes' misplay in center.
Jody Gerut drove home Blake, then scored from first base when Terrence Long allowed Martinez's bloop single to get behind him.
In the seventh, Adam Piatt was caught trying to steal second base -- even though Martinez's throw bounced before it reached second. Piatt and Frank Menechino, who was batting at the time, both thought Piatt had the steal sign, but manager Ken Macha said there was a miscommunication.
"When you lose a game, you look at what went wrong," Macha said. "Those things get magnified. Our baserunning hurt us, but let's not point fingers at any one player. I'll take the blame for the sign."
In the fifth, Santos homered over the 362-foot marker on the 12-foot outfield fence in left. The former Red Sox prospect, acquired earlier this month in the deal that sent pitcher Jamie Brown to Boston, was promoted to the majors nine days ago.
Coco Crisp had two hits for Cleveland, extending his hitting streak to 12 games.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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