July 23, 2014

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Hitters have C.C.’s back – Indians 10, Phillies 6

Eight-run rally in sixth earns Sabathia 10th win

CLEVELAND — C.C. Sabathia has done his job so well this season that the Indians’ offense decided to give him the night off Wednesday — figuratively speaking, of course.
With Sabathia working one of his few mediocre outings of the year, Cleveland hit its way to a
10-6 victory over the Phillies that gave the Indians the nod in their final interleague series at Jacobs Field.
An eight-run sixth inning — the Indians’ biggest of the season — erased a two-run deficit for Cleveland, which improved to
10-2-1 in series at home and remained tied with Detroit atop the Central Division.
“C.C.’s pitched in a lot of tight ballgames where we haven’t done much for him,” said Indians manager Eric Wedge. “It was great to see the guys come back when he was done and pick him up.”
Sabathia, who was coming off his first loss since May 11, didn’t allow a hit through the first two innings, but lasted just six, surrendering four runs on five hits. It was his briefest outing since May 21, with the big left-hander allowing more than three runs for the fifth time in 16 starts.
He got the win, thanks to Cleveland’s big sixth inning, joining Boston’s Josh Beckett and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s John Lackey as the only big league pitchers to reach double digits in the victory column.
Staying true to his theme of the season, Sabathia (10-2, 3.34 ERA) said he isn’t concerned with his win total as long as his team qualifies for the postseason.
“If I have to win 20 games to get to the playoffs, that’s what I want to do,” said Sabathia, who was a rookie when Cleveland last found the postseason in 2001. “If I don’t win another game and we make the playoffs, then I’d be happy.
“Tonight, I honestly didn’t do that good, but the guys stepped up and picked me up.”
The Phillies took the early lead on a two-run home run from Rod Barajas in the third, the second hit Sabathia allowed.
Barajas entered the game batting just .205 with three homers and seven RBIs, but he was a likely candidate to touch up Sabathia, going 6-for-14 with three homers in his career against him.
“He always wears me out. That’s nothing new,” Sabathia said. “It’s not even a weird deal because he hits bullets. He’s just got my number.”
Sabathia (10-2, 3.34) left the game with the Indians trailing 4-2 after 5½ innings but his hitters ensured that he would leave the park with the win when they rallied off starter Jon Lieber and the Phillies bullpen.
A two-run single from Casey Blake put the Indians in front by a run, with Lieber straining an ankle while moving to back up the plate on the play and leaving the game with a limp.
Trot Nixon capped the scoring spree with a two-run double off Yoel Hernandez to put Cleveland up 10-4. Nixon, who entered the game batting just .122 (6-for-49) with two RBIs in his last 15 games, went 3-for-4 with two RBIs. It was his first multihit game since May 23.
“It hasn’t been the best of times,” said Nixon, who raised his average from .236 to .246. “Any struggle is frustrating, whether you’re a veteran or first-year guy.
“It was nice to have a good night. I just have to try to build off this.”
Lieber, who allowed two runs on six hits through the first five innings, wound up getting torched for seven runs on 10 hits through 5 1/3 innings.
Rafael Betancourt pitched two hitless innings to end the game, striking out two of the three batters he faced in the ninth. He is among the American League leaders with a 1.10 ERA and has not surrendered a run in his last 16 appearances.
Cleveland scored 10 or more runs for the ninth time this season, with the Tigers the only team in the majors to accomplish the feat more (13 times).
The Indians improved to 9-0 in the final game of a three-game series at home.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7137 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com.

NEXT UP
WHO: Cleveland at Washington
WHEN: Friday, 7:05 p.m.
WHERE: RFK Stadium, Washington
PITCHERS: Carmona (8-2, 3.12) vs. Bowie (4-2, 3.78)
TV/RADIO: STO; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM