Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Fausto Carmona won his ninth game and Ben Francisco drove in three runs.
CLEVELAND (AP) — Fausto Carmona is pitching like an All-Star, even if he isn’t one.
Carmona won his ninth game of the season and rookie outfielder Ben Francisco homered and drove in three runs as the Indians completed a four-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays with a 10-2 win Monday night.
Grady Sizemore broke open the game with an eighth-inning grand slam, the 500th hit of his career.
Best mark at home
The Indians, whose 31-12 home mark is best in baseball, finished 7-1 on their homestand. The Devil Rays have lost eight straight and 15 of 19.
Carmona (9-4) struck out a career-high eight in rebounding from the worst start of his career. He allowed eight runs and seven hits in one inning against Oakland June 27, and had lost three of his last four starts.
“I thought a lot about my last start,” he said. “I thought about what I did wrong and I tried to learn from it. I wanted to bounce back from that.”
Indians manager Eric Wedge said he was impressed by the way his young pitcher came back.
“Fausto did a great job,” Wedge said. “You know you’re going to have starts like that over the course of the year. Like anything else, it’s how you respond to it.”
Big night for Francisco
Francisco, who hit a walk-off homer in the ninth inning Friday night in his first major league start, drove in a run with a second-inning double, homered in the fourth and added an RBI single in the seventh.
“I’m just out there trying not to hurt the team,” Francisco said. “I know you can’t expect to go out and have immediate success like this. It’s been a good week for me.”
It was another tough series for Tampa Bay, which was swept in four games by the Chicago White Sox before coming to Cleveland.
“They got everything done this series,” Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “We blinked. They didn’t.”
Perez strong in relief
Carmona was in control with a 3-0 lead until the seventh when the Devil Rays scored both of their runs. He left with the bases loaded, nobody out and two runs in, but left-hander Rafael Perez worked out of the jam with no further damage.
Carmona allowed two runs — one earned — and walked two in six innings.
Andy Sonnanstine (1-3) gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings. The right-hander pitched at Kent State and is a native of Barberton.
Sonnanstine, a rookie, attended several games at Jacobs Field in the 1990s to watch the powerhouse Indians teams.
“It was one of my biggest goals to get to the majors and pitch back at home,” said Sonnanstine, who had several family members and friends in attendance. “It was a great thrill for me.”
Francisco drove in Cleveland’s first run in the second. Ryan Garko started the inning with a double and went to third on Trot Nixon’s single. Francisco doubled off the wall in left field and Mike Rouse added a sacrifice fly.
Francisco homered to left on a 1-1 pitch in the fourth.
“I’m seeing the ball well and getting good pitches to hit,” he said.
Hitless until fourth
The Devil Rays didn’t get a hit until Brendan Harris led off the fourth with a clean single to center. Akinori Iwamura slapped a single to left with one out in the sixth.
Carmona ran into trouble in the seventh. Greg Norton drew a leadoff walk before Carlos Pena and Delmon Young singled. Third baseman Casey Blake couldn’t handle Jonny Gomes’ slow roller for an error, allowing Norton to score.
Pinch-hitter Ty Wigginton was hit by a pitch, making it 3-2 and finishing Carmona. Rafael Perez struck out pinch-hitter Raul Casanova. Perez then leapt high into the air to field Akinori Iwamura’s chopper and threw to catcher Victor Martinez to force Young at home. Harris grounded out to end the inning.
“It was a reaction play,” Perez said of his leaping grab. “I didn’t think I was going to catch it. I was lucky enough to get it. I knew I was coming home on any ball hit back to me.”
Perez pitched 12⁄3 scoreless innings.