Belliard's stellar play helps guide Indians win

C.C. Sabathia threw seven strong innings in the 3-2 victory.
CHICAGO (AP) -- C.C. Sabathia's strong pitching and Coco Crisp's three-run homer helped the Cleveland Indians take the lead.
But it was Ronnie Belliard's heads-up defensive play that saved their 3-2 win over the struggling Chicago White Sox.
"That was awesome, kind of a crazy play and Belliard knew where to go with the ball," Sabathia said Friday night after the Indians tied the White Sox for second place in the AL Central.
When Joe Borchard's infield single hit reliever Bob Wickman's glove and went behind second base, Belliard picked up the ball and threw out pinch-runner Willie Harris at the plate as he tried to score from second, ending the game.
"I just went and got it and tried to throw to first and tried to fake him and he kept going," Belliard said. "I just threw to home plate. I think he was going home all the way."
The win was the Indians' 10th win in 15 games, while Chicago lost for the 10th time in 12 games.
Key play
And what a painful ending for the White Sox.
Harris, the team's fastest runner, said he kept going when third base coach Joey Cora waved him home.
"I was just going off Joey and the guy made a good throw to the plate," Harris said. "It's the tying run there and it's OK to make the third out at the plate."
Cora said he gambled because Belliard fielded the ball well behind second and had been playing deep.
"I took a chance and he beat me," Cora said. "He was playing there in the outfield and he made a great play. He won, I lost."
Sabathia (8-6) shut out the White Sox for five innings before Chicago pushed across an unearned run in the sixth and Juan Urine homered with two outs in the seventh to make it a one-run game.
Sabathia gave up five hits with one walk and eight strikeouts in seven innings, outpitching Mark Buehrle in a matchup of top left-handers. Bob Howry threw a scoreless eighth, and Wickman worked the ninth for his third save.
"This is probably the worst I've felt my last couple of starts. Every time I was looking up it said 96 [mph], 97," Sabathia said.
"I just tried to keep going and throw strikes."
Down the stretch
Paul Konerko walked with one out in the ninth before Harris came in to run for him and stole second with two outs.
Borchard's bouncer went off Wickman's glove before Belliard fielded it near the outfield grass, faked a throw to first and then threw home to easily get Harris.
"It was heads-up baseball, recognizing that the runner was still going -- he can fly -- and to make a strong throw on the run. He made the play," Indians manager Eric Wedge said.
Buehrle (10-5) pitched a two-hit shutout against Cleveland on July 21, facing the minimum 27 batters after his bid for a perfect game was broken up in the seventh. But he is winless in three subsequent starts.
Casey Blake and Travis Hafner singled in the second inning and, one out later, Crisp lifted his eighth homer to left.
Jamie Burke, who doubled with two outs in the third for Chicago's first hit, singled in the sixth and moved up on a sacrifice and a passed ball before scoring on Roberto Alomar's sacrifice fly.
Alomar, rejoining the White Sox after he was traded Thursday by Arizona, went 0-for-3 and made a nice relay throw to get Ronnie Belliard at the plate in the fifth when he tried to score on Matt Lawton's double to center.
Alomar also made an error on Omar Vizquel's grounder to second in the seventh.
Buehrle lasted 6 2/3 innings, allowing nine hits and three runs. He walked one and struck out five.

More like this from

Subscribe Today

Sign up for our email newsletter to receive daily news.

Want more? Click here to subscribe to either the Print or Digital Editions.

AP News