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INDIANS Jhonny (Peralta) be good



Published: Sat, July 23, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



CLEVELAND (AP) -- Jhonny Peralta's size, swing and swagger give Bob Wickman flashbacks of another young shortstop he had as a teammate.

"Jhonny reminds me a lot of Derek Jeter," Wickman said. "Jhonny Peralta right now has a chance to be that kind of guy. All respect to Derek Jeter, he's the best in the game. But Jhonny has that kind of talent."

Peralta had two RBIs in his first game as Cleveland's latest No. 3 hitter, and Cliff Lee pitched into the eighth inning to give the Indians a 4-3 win over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

Peralta, who began the season batting ninth, hit a solo homer in the fourth off Gil Meche (10-7) and added an RBI single in a two-run fifth as the Indians bounced back from a demoralizing 4-3 loss Friday night.

The 22-year-old Peralta didn't expect to find his name in the third spot when he arrived at Jacobs Field.

"A little bit surprised," he said. "But I did OK."

Peralta is batting .356 with five homers and 17 RBIs in the past 28 games. During his last 18 games he has 13 RBIs, and every day he makes more Indians fans forget about Omar Vizquel, the popular shortstop who left as a free agent last winter.

"He had big shoes to fill," Wickman said.

Strong pitching

Lee (11-4) gave up three runs and eight hits in 71/3 innings while improving to 4-0 in four career starts against Seattle. The left-hander walked one and struck out five before being pulled after giving up Randy Winn's one-out RBI double in the eighth.

Scott Sauerbeck and Bob Howry got Cleveland to the ninth, and Wickman finished for his 24th save in 27 attempts.

Wickman, making just his second appearance since the All-Star break, gave up a pair of one-out singles, and the Mariners put runners at second and third with two outs. But with Ichiro Suzuki on deck, Wickman got pinch-hitter Chris Snelling to ground out for his 19th straight save at home.

It never seems easy for Wickman, but it's impossible to argue with his results.

"He gets it done," Lee said. "I don't get nervous. When he's in there, it's game over."

Jason Dubois, acquired by the Indians earlier this week in a trade with the Chicago Cubs for Jody Gerut, hit his first AL homer. Dubois' shot leading off the seventh put the Indians ahead 4-2.

Cleveland, which came in four games behind Minnesota in the wild card race, improved to just 4-12 since July 5.

"We're searching right now," Wickman said. "But we're still in it."

Still out

Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner missed his seventh straight game with a concussion he sustained when Chicago's Mark Buehrle hit him in the face with a pitch. Hafner might still go on the disabled list, but the Indians want to wait a few more days to see if he improves.

With Hafner out, Indians manager Eric Wedge reluctantly moved the streaking Peralta up in the lineup. He didn't want to put any more pressure on Peralta, who hasn't buckled to anything in his first full season in the majors.

"I'm sure he'll be back in there [at No. 3] tomorrow," Wedge said.

Peralta, the International League MVP in 2004, brought Cleveland to 2-1 in the fourth with a leadoff homer, his 13th.

The Indians then scored two unearned runs in the fifth off Meche, who should have been out of the inning.

After picking Aaron Boone off first for out No. 2, Meche got Grady Sizemore to hit a routine grounder to shortstop, but rookie Michael Morse nearly overthrew 6-foot-8 first baseman Richie Sexson, who had to jump high to pull it down.

Coco Crisp followed with a single as did Peralta, driving in Sizemore to tie it 2-2 while snapping an 0-for-12 slump by the Indians with runners in scoring position. Victor Martinez's RBI single made it 3-2.

SEATTLECLEVELAND

abrhbiabrhbi

ISuzuki rf4220Szmore cf4100

Winn lf3021Crisp lf4120

Ibanez dh4111JhPlta ss4122

Sexson 1b3011VMrtnz c3011

Beltre 3b4000Brssrd 1b3000

Blmqist 2b4010Blliard 2b4020

Morse ss4030Blake rf3000

Reed cf4000Boone 3b3010

Olivo c3000Dubois dh3111

Snlling ph1000

Totals343103Totals31494

Seattle100100010--3

Cleveland00012010x--4

E--Morse (10). DP--Seattle 2, Cleveland 2. LOB--Seattle 6, Cleveland 5. 2B--ISuzuki (11), Winn (24), Sexson (21), Crisp (23). HR--JhPeralta (13), Dubois (1). CS--Belliard (2). S--Winn.

IPHRERBBSO

Seattle

Meche L,10-7794216

Villone2-300010

JeNelson1-300001

Cleveland

ClLee W,11-47 1-383315

Sauerbeck1-300001

Howry1-300000

Wickman S,24120000

Umpires--Home, Tim Timmons; First, Chuck Meriwether; Second, Tim McClelland; Third, Adam Dowdy. T--2:36. A--28,498.




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