ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Jake Westbrook has found his pitching groove in time for a playoff stretch run.
Westbrook gave up one run over seven innings, Asdrubal Cabrera hit his first major league homer and the Cleveland Indians beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 8-1 Saturday night.
Grady Sizemore also went deep for the AL Central-leading Indians, who extended their advantage over the Tigers to 1½ games. Detroit lost 5-2 against the New York Yankees. Cleveland has won three in a row following a four-game losing streak.
“We’re getting close to September, so now every win counts,” Westbrook said. “Every win is big right now and hopefully we can do everything we can to kind of separate ourselves from Detroit.”
Westbrook (4-7) allowed just two hits, including an RBI double by Carlos Pena with two outs in the seventh. The right-hander, who spent time earlier this season on the disabled list with a left abdominal strain, has won three of his last four starts.
“For me, it’s just getting into a rhythm,” Westbrook said. “It’s about pitching with confidence and being able to locate my pitches. Right now I feel good on where I am, and hopefully I can continue to be there.”
Westbrook struck out four and walked two during his
“You look at the last five starts, maybe he’s been the Jake Westbrook that we know him to be out there and even beyond that at times,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “Jake was outstanding again today. He’s really stringing them together right now.”
Cabrera’s three-run drive off Jason Hammel (1-3) put the Indians ahead 3-0 in the second. Called up from Triple-A Buffalo on Aug. 7, the rookie got his first career RBI on a sacrifice fly in Cleveland’s 2-1 win over Tampa Bay on Friday.
“That’s a big three-run homer,” Wedge said. “That is what got it started, and the guys just added on from there.”
Hammel gave up four runs and eight hits in five innings. He is winless in 15 major league starts, including six this season.
“Early in the game, too many pitches,” said Hammel, who threw 105. “Picking the corners instead of just attacking.”
The Devil Rays have the majors’ worst record at 46-76 and have lost 36 of 49 since June 25. Tampa Bay has not homered in eight straight games and have scored just 17 runs over the stretch.
“It just ain’t happening right now,” Devil Rays left fielder Carl Crawford said. “It’s late August. … Probably a little tired. That’s the only thing I can think of. We’ll start swinging again.”
Sizemore made it 4-0 in the fifth with his 21st homer of the season. He has a hit in 22 of his last 24 games.
Kenny Lofton singled in a run in the sixth and Ryan Garko hit an RBI double in the seventh to extend the Indians’ lead to 6-0. Garko has two RBIs in his past 14 games.
Casey Blake’s two-run single in the eighth put Cleveland up 8-1.
Crawford singled with one out in the fourth for Tampa Bay’s first hit, but B.J. Upton grounded into a double play.
Umpire Jerry Crawford missed the game with a back injury. Mike Estabrook replaced him.
• Cleveland DH Travis Hafner (knee and hamstring) and RF Trot Nixon (flulike symptoms) were both back in the starting lineup.
• Devil Rays minor league LHP James Houser was suspended 50 games after testing positive for a banned performance-enhancing substance.
• Indians LHP C.C. Sabathia, today’s scheduled starter, is 7-1 with a 2.47 ERA in 10 career games against the Devil Rays.
• Crawford has a hit in 17 of his past 18 games. He is 33-for-70 in August.
• Cleveland is 8-1 against Tampa Bay this season.
• Tampa Bay shortstop Ben Zobrist left in the third inning with a right oblique strain and will have an MRI exam today. Manager Joe Maddon said he is likely headed for the DL.