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Peralta, Martinez hit three-run homers

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Aaron Boone isn't ready to give up on his first
season with the Cleveland Indians.

"As bad as we've been playing, and as frustrating as it has
been for all of us, we're right there," Boone said.

The Indians kept from falling further back in the AL wild-card
race Thursday, as Jake Westbrook dodged danger for seven innings
and Jhonny Peralta and Victor Martinez each hit three-run homers in
a 10-1 win over the Kansas City Royals.

Cleveland, which was 10 games over .500 on July 4 and in the
thick of the playoff race, improved to just 3-11 since by salvaging
a four-game series split against one of the AL's worst teams.

Boone hopes the win reverses the losing trend for the Indians,
who have been up and down since April.

"We've been getting beat like a drum for a while," said Boone,
who after a rough first two months is batting .302 (42-for-134)
since June 4. "Hopefully, this gets us going and gets us playing
like I know we can."

Realistically, the Indians probably won't catch Chicago in the
AL Central, but they're among five or six teams that could make the
wild card fun.

Westbrook (7-12) didn't allow an earned run, scattered nine hits
and worked out of several jams, only once retiring the Royals in
order. He walked none and struck out five after entering 0-3 with a
6.57 ERA this month.

Cleveland's lineup hasn't produced for Westbrook or any other
starter lately, and while protecting a slim lead, the right-hander
was forced into damage control. The Royals had at least two runners
on and less than two outs three times, but Westbrook got the key
groundout or strikeout every time.

"He pitched through some tough innings," Indians manager Eric
Wedge said. "He has a strong intensity about him that may not show
from the outside but it's in there, believe me."

Peralta homered in the fourth off J.P. Howell (1-4) and Martinez
capped Cleveland's seven-run seventh -- the club's biggest inning
since June 25 -- with a shot off Leo Nunez.

Casey Blake added a solo homer for the Indians, who have been
shut out three times since the All-Star break and hadn't scored
more than six runs since July 9.

"We haven't been scoring at all," Ronnie Belliard said. "We
needed this."

Blake homered just inside the left-field foul pole to open the
seventh off Howell, who gave up four runs and five hits in six-plus
innings.

The Indians added three more runs on Boone's two-run single and
Coco Crisp's RBI single before Martinez homered into the
right-field seats.

Peralta, recently moved up in the order after batting mostly
ninth, put the Indians up 3-0 with his two-out homer in the fourth.
Martinez singled with one out and chugged into third on a double by
Jose Hernandez.

Blake couldn't bring Martinez home with a fly to left, but
Peralta followed with his shot onto the pedestrian patio in left.

"My thought process was right, I just didn't execute," Howell
said. "It's my fault. I threw him a splitter and wanted to bury it
so he would hit a groundball. But I left it up."

The Royals got an unearned run back off Westbrook in the fifth.
Blake kicked around Ruben Gotay's double into the right-field
corner for an error and Albert Castillo's groundout brought home
the Royals' only run.

Kansas City had two on and none out in the sixth, but Westbrook
escaped by retiring Matt Stairs on a flyout and inducing Emil Brown
to hit into a double play.

Westbrook somehow got out of the first without giving up a run.
He gave up two singles and watched the Indians botch a rundown but
bounced back by striking out Mike Sweeney, throwing home to catch a
runner at the plate and fanning Brown.

"I was able to battle out of it," Westbrook said. "I could
have pitched better -- I gave up nine hits. But I got outs when I
needed them."

Game notes
Indians DH Travis Hafner missed his fifth straight game
with lingering effects from a concussion. He hasn't played since he
was struck in the face with a pitch by Chicago's Mark Buehrle last
weekend. He's feeling better, but Hafner still gets dizzy
exercising. ... The debut of OF Chip Ambres on Wednesday was the
10th by a Royals rookie this season, two shy of the club record
(2002). ... Royals OF Davis DeJesus is batting .396 (19-for-48)
during his 12-game hitting streak. ... Indians OF Jason Dubois is
1-for-11 with five strikeouts since coming over in a trade with the
Chicago Cubs.