indians 5, braves 2
CLEVELAND — Sure, it was Father’s Day, but Fausto Carmona wasn’t about to let the Atlanta Braves keep confirming that they were the Indians’ daddy.
With the villainous Braves, who prevented Cleveland from winning a world championship in 1995, a win away from sweeping the Indians in their own house Sunday, Carmona rode to the rescue — again — leading a 5-2 victory.
The win assured that the Wahoos would hold onto first place in the Central Division. They lead Detroit by a game.
In dropping the first two games to Atlanta, the Indians suffered just their second series loss at home, with a defeat to Seattle in a makeup game last Monday accounting for the other.
The Braves were able to beat Cleveland ace C.C. Sabathia in the opener but weren’t able to duplicate the feat against No. 1½ starter Carmona, who won for the eighth time in 13 starts.
In his first appearance against Atlanta, the right-hander allowed two runs on five hits, while striking out five over seven-plus innings. Carmona (8-2, 3.12) blanked the Braves on four hits through seven innings, then allowed the two runs in the eighth after surrendering a homer and two walks to the first three batters.
“Fausto was in command really the whole way,” said Cleveland manager Eric Wedge. “Again, it was just another great performance by Fausto.”
In his stint as a fill-in for two injured starters, Carmona has been just short of brilliant, working at least six innings in 12 of his 13 starts, including 12 straight, while allowing three runs or fewer in 11 outings. His win count ranks fourth in the American League.
“He’s been giving us quality starts every time,” said left fielder Jason Michaels, who broke a scoreless tie in the fifth inning with a hard two-out single up the middle. “God, he’s got some good stuff going. You can tell by the way guys are swinging at him.
“He’s been just a hell of a pitcher for us.”
Carmona’s effort has thrust him into All-Star consideration, along with Sabathia, though the right-hander insists he’s not thinking about his possible selection to the Midsummer Classic in San Francisco.
“I’m happy with the situation,” said Carmona, through an interpreter, admitting that being chosen to the All-Star Game would be a thrill. “I’m throwing the ball well and just trying to get better and better.”
Cleveland’s sluggish offense went scoreless through the first four innings off Braves starter Kyle Davies, who entered his 12th start of the year with a 3-5 record and 5.70 ERA.
After Michaels got them going in the fifth, the Indians — with help from the Braves — took command in the sixth.
An error on Atlanta first baseman Scott Thorman scored the first two runs of the inning, with Cleveland adding two more to go up 5-0. The Braves committed two errors in the inning.
“It takes days like today to work back in the right direction,” said Wedge, whose team entered the game batting .254 and averaging 3.8 runs in 14 games since June 2. “These guys are going to come around.”
Casey Blake didn’t figure in the scoring but he was able to extend his career-high hitting streak to 26 games with a single in the first inning. It is the longest streak in the majors this season, eclipsing Ichiro Suzuki’s 25-game streak.
In addition to his big hit, Michaels chipped in with a pair of fielding gems from left. His diving catch of Brian McCann’s liner, which was followed by a diving catch from Grady Sizemore in center, saved a run in the seventh. But another diving catch from Michaels in the eighth might have saved the game.
With the Tribe leading 5-2 and Atlanta threatening with one out and runners on second and third, Michaels laid out to snag a sinking liner from Chipper Jones that would have gone for extra bases.
“Jason Michaels had a great game,” Wedge said. “Both those catches are game-changing plays.”
The Indians got another solid effort from their bullpen, with Rafael Betancourt allowing his first inherited runner to score – he hadn’t allowed his previous 16 to score — but not surrendering a run for the 15th straight time, covering 17 innings.
Betancourt’s work in the eighth set up closer Joe Borowski, who worked a rare uneventful ninth inning to record the 100th save of his career.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7137 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHO: Cleveland vs. Philadelphia
WHERE: Jacobs Field
PITCHERS: Lee (3-4, 6.04) vs. Hamels (9-2, 3.47)
TV/RADIO: STO; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM