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Lee stops AL's 2nd best hitters

4/30/2004

CLEVELAND (AP) -- When the door to Cleveland's bullpen finally
swung open, nobody gasped, panicked or ran for the exits.

Cliff Lee pitched seven strong innings and Travis Hafner had
four RBI, leading the Indians to a 11-2 rout of the Baltimore
Orioles on Friday night.

Lee (3-0) allowed one run and five hits -- only two after a shaky
first inning -- in his longest outing this season.

"It's good that I finally got to see the seventh inning," Lee
said.

But more importantly, the left-hander gave most of the Indians'
relievers another day's rest. Cleveland's frazzled bullpen was
coming off a 9-8 loss in Chicago on Wednesday when it gave up five
runs in the ninth. Before the game, Indians manager Eric Wedge said
David Riske had temporarily lost his closer's job.

Lee made one unnecessary.

"It's good to give them another day off," Wedge said. "But
we're not shying away from anything. Next time we're in a tight
situation we're going to go down there and expect them to get the
job done."

Lee shut down one of the league's best hitting teams. The
Orioles entered the three-game series ranked second in the AL with
a .293 average and had at least 10 hits in 10 of their previous 15
games.

"We had two quick hits, and then nothing, blah, nothing,"
Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said.

Omar Vizquel had a two-run double in the second off Baltimore
starter Sidney Ponson (2-2), and the Indians built a 7-1 lead after
four innings while coasting to a rare, easy win.

Ponson was tagged for six earned runs and nine hits in 3 2-3
innings. He dropped to 0-6 in 11 career games against Cleveland,
the only AL team he has yet to beat.

"I'm not talking to you guys tonight," Ponson said, waving
reporters away from his locker.

Luis Matos homered in the eighth for Baltimore, which has
dropped 16 of its last 19 at Jacobs Field.

Hafner doubled in two runs in the first and matched his
career-high for RBI in the sixth with another two-run double to
make it 9-1.

Cleveland scored four in the first off Ponson, who gave up three
straight singles to open the inning but initially kept the Indians
from scoring by getting Casey Blake to hit into a forceout at the
plate.

Hafner, though, followed with his first double and Victor
Martinez's RBI groundout made it 3-0. Ronnie Belliard capped the
inning with a run-scoring single.

"We broke out early and we kept it going," Wedge said. "Cliff
struggled early but he got it together."

The Orioles got two quick hits and scored in the first against
Lee, but could do little else over the next six innings in their
first matchup against the 25-year-old.

"He made a lot of good pitches and mixed it up," said Orioles
rookie Darnell McDonald, who had faced Lee in the minors. "He kept
us off balance and on our toes."

Cleveland added two more runs in the second when Alex Escobar
doubled, Matt Lawton singled and Vizquel brought them both in with
a double down the right-field line.

Matos connected for first homer in the eighth off reliever Scott
Stewart, but otherwise it was a quiet night for Cleveland's
bullpen.

Kaz Tadano pitched a scoreless ninth in his second major league
appearance for the Indians.

Game notes
The Indians finished April 9-13 after going 7-20 in the
first month last season. ... Vizquel played in his 1,999th game at
shortstop. On Saturday, he'll become the 15th shortstop in history
to play 2,000 games. Last week, Vizquel collected his 2,000 career
hit. ... Belliard has walked in nine straight games. ... Orioles C
Javy Lopez sat out with a strained oblique muscle he sustained
swinging a bat in Thursday's game. ... Baltimore placed 1B/DH David
Segui on the 15-day disabled list with an inflamed left knee and
recalled McDonald from Triple-A Ottawa. McDonald singled in the
fourth inning for his first hit in the majors. "It feels good to
get it out of the way," he said. "Unfortunately, it came on a
night like this."