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Sabathia delivers, while wife waits to deliver

9/12/2003

CLEVELAND (AP) -- C.C. Sabathia didn't hide his emotions and
didn't want to. He may be about to become a first-time father, but
he's got no love for these Twins.

Sabathia, pitching with more on his mind than baseball, matched
his win total of last season and Jhonny Peralta hit a three-run
homer to lead the Cleveland Indians over Minnesota 4-3 Friday
night.

The Twins are trying to repeat as AL Central champions, but not
if Sabathia can help it.

"Anybody but Minnesota," he said. "I got friends over in that
locker room, but we battle on the field."

Sabathia (13-8) allowed two runs and six hits in 6 2-3 in
innings. The left-hander took the mound while his wife, Amber,
awaited the birth of the couple's first child. She was due on
Wednesday.

Also, Sabathia's father has been ill, causing the 23-year-old to
leave the Indians to be with him. Yet despite the distractions,
Sabathia was locked in on the Twins, whose only runs off him came
on Torii Hunter's homer in the fourth.

On his walk back to the dugout after being replaced in the
seventh, Sabathia pointed to his father, C.C., who has improved
enough to travel to Cleveland.

"My emotions were really high tonight," he said. "We got a
baby on the way and my dad's doing better. So things are OK right
now."

Hunter also saved two runs, robbing Casey Blake of a two-run
homer in the seventh with a leaping catch against the wall in deep
center

Minnesota, coming off two big wins against the White Sox, failed
to hold a two-run lead and remained tied with Chicago for first
place in the AL Central. The White Sox lost 7-4 in Boston.

"The series in Chicago was intense. I guess some guys came to
Cleveland and relaxed," Hunter said. "You can't relax against
them. They've got a good club. They want to kick some butt. Can't
you tell?"

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire agreed with Hunter's assessment
that his team was flat.

"It's a disappointing loss," he said. "We didn't execute well
fundamentally. We made some mistakes pitching."

Peralta's fourth homer in the fifth gave the Indians a 3-2 lead
off Kenny Rogers (11-8), who limited Cleveland to two singles
through the first four innings.

Victor Martinez walked to open the inning and went to third on
Travis Hafner's single. Peralta, the youngest position player in
the AL at 21, followed by hitting a 1-0 pitch over the wall in
center.

Once he got the lead, Sabathia didn't give it up.

In the sixth, he broke Hunter's bat on a grounder to second and
then struck out A.J. Pierzynski and Dustan Mohr. Sabathia began to,
ahem, labor in the seventh and left after giving up a two-out walk
to Jon Ford and Doug Mientkiewicz's single.

"He put it into another gear," Indians manager Eric Wedge said
of Sabathia. "He made tough pitches when he had to."

Danys Baez got out of the seventh by retiring Matt LeCroy on a
fly to right to end the inning. Baez worked the eighth, and David
Riske gave up an RBI single to Shannon Stewart in the ninth before
getting his seventh save.

The Indians made it 4-2 and chased Rogers in the sixth on
Martinez's RBI single.

Hunter, who has sparred with Indians the past two seasons, hit
his 24th homer in the fourth to give the Twins a 2-0 lead.

LeCroy walked leading off, and one out later, Hunter hammered
Sabathia's 2-2 pitch over the wall in left-center for his first
homer in 62 at-bats.

Game notes
The Akron Aeros, Cleveland's Double-A affiliate, won the
Eastern League championship Friday night over New Haven (Toronto).
... Sabathia had his start pushed back from Wednesday after he came
down with a suspected case of food poisoning. ... Jesse Orosco
relieved Rogers in the sixth, hit Hafner was his only pitch and was
taken out. ... Twins LHP Eric Milton will make his first start of
the season on Sunday. Milton, who went 13-9 a year ago, has been
sidelined since knee surgery in March.