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BALTIMORE Indians stay hot, topple Orioles



Published: Fri, July 1, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Cleveland completed the month of June with a 17-10 record.

BALTIMORE (AP) -- The Cleveland Indians capped a successful month with the type of performance that fueled their hopes of keeping the momentum going in July.

Jake Westbrook won his fourth straight start and Coco Crisp went 3-for-5 with two RBIs, leading Cleveland over the Baltimore Orioles 9-3 Thursday night.

Jhonny Peralta had two hits, two RBIs and scored twice for the Indians, who went 17-10 in June -- their winningest month since May 2001, when they were 19-8. Cleveland has won nine of its last 11 on the road and five of six overall.

"The game of baseball has a lot of ups and downs," Crisp said. "We went through a down stage and now we're going up. Hopefully, we can stay consistent throughout the rest of the year and keep playing as well as we've been playing."

Westbrook has strong outing

Westbrook (6-9) allowed three runs, four hits and three walks over seven innings. He left after throwing 95 pitches on a hot, humid night.

"It's a nice little streak," he said of his four-game run. "Hopefully, I can keep it going. With the way the offense is swinging the bats, it's nice."

Baltimore's Rafael Palmeiro went 2-for-4 with two RBIs to move within eight hits of reaching 3,000 for his career. He was robbed of a hit in the third inning by second baseman Ronnie Belliard, who stabbed a grounder on the outfield grass and threw out Palmeiro by a step.

Sal Fasano homered for the Orioles, who have lost seven of eight. Sammy Sosa went 0-for-4 and is 1-for-27 in his last seven games.

Three-run fourth inning

Cleveland went up 5-2 with a three-run fourth inning. Belliard hit a one-out double and Peralta walked before Grady Sizemore doubled in two runs. Crisp then chased Orioles starter Hayden Penn (2-2) with an RBI single.

Penn never pitched above the Double-A level before joining the Orioles in late May to replace the injured Erik Bedard in the starting rotation. The rookie was 2-0 after five starts, but over his last two he has yielded 12 runs and 15 hits in 5 2-3 innings.

"You're asking a lot of the kid. The kid's 20 years old," Baltimore manager Lee Mazzilli said. "Let's face it, this is the big leagues. When you make a mistake, you're going to pay for it."

Penn's shortcoming was his inability to keep the ball down and in the strike zone. He gave up seven hits, and his three walks were his most in four starts.

"I didn't feel comfortable out there at all," he said. "That's two times in a row. You're going to get beat if you don't execute; I've got to get the ball down and make some pitches."

Pulls away in seventh

Fasano hit his sixth homer to make it 5-3 in the fifth, but the Indians pulled away with a four-run seventh. Casey Blake hit a sacrifice fly and Aaron Boone singled in a run before Peralta drove in two runs with a single off Steve Reed.

That effectively put the lid on the Indians' best month in more than four years.

"We're working hard to try to come out here and win this series," manager Eric Wedge said. "That's really how we approach it, just from series to series."

The Indians got a run in the first when Crisp hit a triple to right and scored on a grounder by Travis Hafner, his 22nd RBI in 13 games.

In the bottom half, Westbrook walked the first two batters and Miguel Tejada singled to load the bases for Palmeiro, who bounced a two-run single up the middle.

But Westbrook was solid after that.

"I guess I tried to be a little too fine early. I wasn't being as aggressive as I probably should've been," Westbrook said. "I kept it to two runs, and I felt like I did a good job there and was able to settle down as the night went on."




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