Byrd outduels Duchscherer as Indians blank Athletics

CLEVELAND (AP) -- The Cleveland Indians are trying to mix in some timely hitting with their stellar starting pitching and strong defense.

Paul Byrd and two relievers combined for the Indians' fourth shutout in seven games and Ryan Garko delivered a three-run homer in a 4-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night.

The Indians got seven hits, just one fewer than they had in a doubleheader split Monday night with Toronto after which manager Eric Wedge blasted his hitters for poor preparation at the plate.

"It was better, they had tougher at-bats and it was good to see [Travis] Hafner help us out," Wedge said.

Cleveland's designated hitter came in hitting .179 (7-for-39) in his previous 13 games. He went 2-for-4 with an RBI to lift his overall average to .223.

Byrd (2-3) allowed five hits over 7 1/3 innings, striking out a season-high seven without a walk.

The right-hander extended the Indians' scoreless streak to 34 innings by their starting staff. The last run allowed by a Cleveland starter came Friday night in the fifth inning against Toronto by C.C. Sabathia -- the only run yielded by an Indians starter in the last 39 innings.

"I definitely had a little pressure on me," Byrd said. "It was like I'm a loser if I give up one run."

Wedge wishes Cleveland's hitters would feed off one another's success as well as the pitchers and fielders are doing.

"It's a friendly competition," Wedge said of the starting staff's streak. "[They] try to keep one-upping one another."

Hafner singled home a first-inning run off Justin Duchscherer (3-2) and got a two-out single off lefty Alan Embree in the eighth before Garko connected off former teammate Andrew Brown.

Rafael Perez retired the only Oakland batter he faced and Masa Kobayashi worked the final 1 2/3 innings for his first save. The 33-year-old right-hander, signed as a free agent in November, had 227 saves the last eight seasons in Japan.

Byrd's performance came after Cliff Lee pitched nine scoreless innings Monday night in the second game following Fausto Carmona's five-hitter in the opener. Before a rainout Sunday, lefty starter Aaron Laffey pitched seven innings in a 12-0 win Saturday.

"All we ask is to give us a chance to win, but they're going above the call of duty," Wedge said.

So is second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera, who turned the 14th unassisted triple play in history Monday and again brought the crowd to its feet with a spectacular play. The 22-year-old ran into center field to snare a looping ball off the bat of Bobby Crosby to start the eighth.

"I didn't think there was any way he'd get to that ball," Wedge said. "Incredible."

It was one of several fine plays in support of Byrd.

"My box score is going to look great in the paper, but it's because of those guys," Byrd said. "I just kept fist-pumping after every one. If they don't make those plays, who knows how many runs I give up?"

In the second, Grady Sizemore fielded Crosby's two-out single to center and threw out Frank Thomas trying to score from second. Catcher Victor Martinez tagged the 39-year-old DH, whose awkward slide stopped well short of the plate.

"With two outs, you've got to go for it," Oakland manager Bob Geren said when asked why the lumbering Thomas was waved around third. "It was a good throw, right on the money."

In the third, left fielder David Dellucci's leaping catch against the wall robbed Donnie Murphy.

Byrd got out of a two-on, one-out jam in the fifth by striking out Murphy and with the runners in motion, Martinez threw out Crosby trying to steal second.

Sizemore robbed Kurt Suzuki leading off the sixth, making a diving catch of a short fly ball in left-center.

Duchscherer allowed one run and fanned six over 6 2/3 innings. The right-hander retired 13 in a row after Hafner's hit before Sizemore began the sixth with a single.

In the seventh, Cabrera got a one-out single. With two outs, Duchscherer hit Casey Blake with a pitch and was replaced by left-hander Embree, who fanned Sizemore.

Game notes
Hafner got his 460th RBI as Cleveland's DH, surpassing Andre Thornton's team record. ... Cleveland right-hander Jake Westbrook, out since April 22 with a strained ribcage muscle, threw a simulated game off the Progressive Field mound in the afternoon. "I felt fine, threw all my pitches, about 60 of them," said Westbrook, who is scheduled to make a rehab start at Class A Lake County on Saturday. ... Oakland third baseman Eric Chavez, recovering from offseason back surgery, is due to start a rehab assignment Thursday at Triple-A Sacramento. ... Geren said second baseman Mark Ellis remains day-to-day with a strained left hamstring. ... Martinez went 1-for-2 and has hit safely in 20 of his last 21 games, going 27-for-79 (.334).