Cleveland's ace took advantage of the rare run support, cruising through eight innings with five strikeouts and three double plays to spur the ailing Indians past the Minnesota Twins 10-1 on Wednesday.
"I feel just as confident going on the mound now as I ever have," said Lee, who scattered seven singles, walked one and hit a batter. "My job is to get deep in the game and to give the team a chance to win, and I feel like I've been doing that.
"For whatever reason, the results as far as winning or losing have not been there. All I can do is throw good pitches."
Lee (3-6) turned in his 10th straight quality start, six innings or more and three runs or less, picking up only his second victory since April 16. He was handed just 30 runs over his first 11 appearances from the third-highest scoring team in the league, the lowest support rate in the AL.
"I'm probably never going to have a season statistically like I did last year, but I feel like I am giving the team a chance to win every time I go out there," Lee said, adding: "I don't hit and I don't score runs, so I'm not going to worry about that."
The Twins showed little life against Lee, except when Gomez tried to confront him following a flyout in the fifth. While peacemaking first baseman Victor Martinez was blocking Gomez's path and ushering him toward the dugout, the TV replay showed Lee taunt Gomez by saying, "Why didn't you bunt that time?"
"Just some competitive jawing back and forth. That's all that was," Indians manager Eric Wedge said.
The fleet-footed Gomez, who has riled up his share of opponents with his exuberant play, angered Lee in a game last year by bunting with two strikes. He did it again in this game, striking himself out when the ball rolled foul in the third.
"I don't know, man. I'm going to leave that alone," Lee said.
Gomez defended himself.
"He can say whatever he wants to say. This is my game. The bunt put me here, and I have to work every day to get better and keep bunting," Gomez said.
Lee's performance was an especially big lift for Cleveland after another starter, middle infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, was placed on the disabled list. Two other stalwarts, reliever Rafael Betancourt and center fielder Grady Sizemore, went on the DL in the last week.
Jhonny Peralta's three-run homer against rookie Anthony Swarzak (1-2) was the big hit, part of a two-out, five-run surge in the third inning. Ben Francisco started a string of four straight two-out singles, all of them either bloops or soft liners to shallow center field, before Peralta's drive cleared the bases and gave Lee a 5-0 lead.
"He's not going to point fingers at anybody," Francisco said. "He knows we're out there playing hard for him."
Martinez drove in a run during the rally and now has 10 RBIs in his last eight games.
Swarzak started his major league career last month with 11 straight shutout innings, but he's given up nine runs over his last six frames. The right-hander needed 83 pitches to finish four innings, though he didn't issue a walk while striking out three.
Swarzak will probably get at least one more start, with Glen Perkins beginning a rehab stint with to test his left elbow. Perkins is scheduled to pitch Thursday and next Tuesday for Class A Fort Myers.
In his next outing, Swarzak will remember what happened in the third inning.
"I couldn't figure out what to do to get that next out," he said. "It's pretty frustrating, but if those balls were down in the strike zone, those are ground balls."
Four days after fouling a ball off his left knee that caused considerable swelling, 3B Joe Crede was back in the lineup for the Twins. They also got encouraging news on RF Michael Cuddyer's right index finger, which was more mobile and feeling better than the day before. Cuddyer hasn't tried to swing or throw since hurting himself and leaving Sunday's game. ... With Sizemore and Cabrera both hurt, Francisco is Cleveland's leadoff hitter for now. Wedge said he'll also consider 3B Jamey Carroll in that spot.