Indians fall 2-1 to Blue Jays
The loss dropped Cleveland a game behind in the AL wild card race.
TORONTO -- Scott Downs combined with three relievers on a five-hitter to lead the Toronto Blue Jays to a 2-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Saturday.
Cleveland, which had won eight of its previous nine, managed just an unearned run and dropped one game back in the AL wild-card race. The Indians are a major league-best 18-7 since July 31.
Downs (2-3) allowed a run on a throwing error by first baseman Eric Hinske. The 29-year-old left-hander, who has 1.75 ERA in his last four starts, gave up three hits, struck out six and walked two in six-plus innings.
"I'm just riding a wave," said Downs. "Pitching right now is fun. I'm going out there and keeping the team in the game for as long as I'm out there. As long as I do that pitching is still going to be fun."
Downs' current run is the best stretch he's ever had in the majors. He made his debut in 2000 with the Chicago Cubs, going 4-3 with a 5.17 ERA in 18 starts but elbow problems derailed his career and he didn't have an extended stay in the majors until last year with the Montreal Expos.
"He changed speeds, had a pretty good breaking ball and he wasn't afraid to pitch inside either," said Indians third baseman Aaron Boone. "I thought he was very good."
Solid relief pitching
Jason Frasor pitched the seventh, Scott Schoeneweis got an out in the eighth and Miguel Batista finished for his 24th save in 29 chances. Cleveland had runners on first and second with two outs in the eighth, but Batista struck out Victor Martinez.
"He does all the things successful lefties do," said Jays manager John Gibbons of Downs. "He throws off-speed stuff behind in the count . . . he's got big-time confidence, he's loose out there, he controls the running game and he competes.
"This is an opportunity for him. He wasn't expecting one but shoot, he's done a great job."
No support for Millwood again
Kevin Millwood (7-11) pitched a six-hitter for his first complete game since Aug. 7, 2003, for Philadelphia at Colorado. Millwood, who allowed run-scoring singles to Frank Catalanotto and Russ Adams, has a 3.18 ERA but the Indians have averaged only 3.25 runs in his starts.
"I've gotten the urge to break things," Millwood said of the lack of run support, "but right now it's almost funny."
Cleveland's Casey Blake doubled in the third and scored on Hinske's throwing error to third. After recording an out at first on Grady Sizemore's grounder to second, Hinske tried to get Blake at third but his throw sailed into foul territory.
Toronto (65-64) won for just the second time in nine games and avoided falling under .500 for the first time since July 19.
Hudson singled in the third, stole second and scored on Catalanotto's single. Hinske and Hudson singled in fourth before Adams singled for a 2-1 lead.
Szmore cf4000Adams ss4011
Crisp lf3000Ctlnotto lf4011
JhPlta ss3000Jhnson lf0000
Hafner dh3000VWells cf4000
VMrtnz c3010Koskie dh3010
Blliard 2b4010AHill 3b4000
JHrndz 1b2000Zaun c3000
Brssrd 1b2000Rios rf2000
Boone 3b4020Hinske 1b3110
Blake rf4110OHudsn 2b3120
E--AHill (4), Hinske (6). LOB--Cleveland 8, Toronto 6. 2B--Blake (24), Koskie (10). SB--OHudson (6).
MBatista S,241 2-310012
Downs pitched to 1 batter in the 7th. Umpires--Home, Alfonso Marquez; First, Chris Guccione; Second, Rick Reed; Third, Ted Barrett. T--2:45. A--27,630.