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Sabathia, Martinez pace Tribe past Chisox



Published: Mon, September 11, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



Cleveland's 5-2 win puts Chicago further behind in the AL wild card race.

CHICAGO (AP) -- C.C. Sabathia gave up hits to the first two batters he faced -- one of them a homer -- before buckling down and knocking the Chicago White Sox farther behind in the AL wild card race.

Victor Martinez hit a tiebreaking homer leading off the ninth and Sabathia threw a four-hitter Sunday, sparking the Cleveland Indians to a 5-2 victory and a split of the four-game series.

"Chicago knocked us out last year and they had already clinched, so we wanted to return the favor," Sabathia said. "I was throwing the ball pretty good. I was tying some guys up."

The White Sox fell 11/2 games behind Minnesota in the AL wild card race, but remained 31/2 behind Detroit in the AL Central. The Twins beat the Tigers 12-1.

After the deflating loss, Chicago headed west for a tough six-game road trip to Anaheim and Oakland that could determine if the defending World Series champions get back in the playoffs.

Solo shot in ninth

Martinez's solo shot on a 3-0 pitch from struggling reliever Brandon McCarthy (3-7) put the Indians ahead 3-2 after starter Javier Vazquez pitched strong seven innings for Chicago.

"You have skids like this, but you'd rather it didn't happen in September when you are in a pennant race," said McCarthy, who might be headed to the starting rotation next season but has been in the bullpen all year.

McCarthy, who gave up three runs without retiring a hitter Saturday night when Chicago nearly blew a 10-1 lead, surrendered two runs and two hits in one-plus inning.

"It stinks. There is no way else to put it," he said of his recent performances. "I'm not happy with the way I'm throwing. ... I'm sick and tired at this point of losing games for this team and today is a prime example -- coming in with a big opportunity where I can get something done and again I didn't do it."

Added insurance runs

The Indians added a pair of insurance runs after Martinez's homer -- his 15th of the season and sixth against the White Sox. Casey Blake hit an RBI single off David Riske and Grady Sizemore drew a bases loaded walk off Sean Tracey. The White Sox used five pitchers in the ninth.

"They don't want to get the leadoff hitter on base walking," said Martinez, explaining his decision to swing at a 3-0 pitch. "I really wanted to make sure to get the head of the bat in front. If you're going to do something on 3-0, make sure to pull it foul."

Sabathia (11-9) gave up a single to Pablo Ozuna and a two-run homer to Tadahito Iguchi -- the first two batters he faced in the first -- but allowed only two hits the rest of the way in running his record to 3-0 against the White Sox this season. He walked two and struck out nine in his sixth complete game of the season.

"He's tough when he's on. One of the best pitchers in the league," Chicago's Paul Konerko said.

"I could have easily lost confidence in my changeup after Iguchi took it deep," Sabathia said. "I just kept throwing it and showing it. It worked out."

Vasquez pitches well

Vazquez, coming off one of his best performances of the season, a three-hit, 11-strikeout complete game loss at Fenway Park, gave up an infield hit to Jason Michaels in the first. Michaels beat out a slow roller to short that Juan Uribe couldn't pick up.

Vazquez didn't give up another hit until the sixth. He walked Andy Marte with one out and one pitch after White Sox right fielder Jermaine Dye missed catching Sizemore's foul fly against the fence padding, Sizemore hit a triple into the same corner to cut the White Sox's lead to 2-1. Michaels then followed with an RBI single past a drawn-in infield to tie the game.

Vazquez gave up two runs and four hits in seven innings, walking two and striking out 10 while throwing a season-high 127 pitches.




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