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Colon has best outing since April

7/13/2001

CINCINNATI (AP) -- This is exactly how the Cleveland Indians
wanted to start the second half -- with Bartolo Colon at his best.

Colon pitched seven shutout innings, his best performance since
mid-April, and Jim Thome and Juan Gonzalez homered Thursday night
for a 7-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

A split and unusually sparse crowd watched Colon (7-7) hit 99
mph on the radar gun as he rolled through the Reds' lineup. The
right-hander gave up six singles and three walks while throwing 120
pitches.

Starting pitching is the Indians' biggest concern as they start
the second half trying to catch Minnesota in the AL Central. Even
with Colon's solid start, their rotation has thrown the fewest
innings in the majors.

"When we get a good pitching performance like tonight, it just
shows how good it can be," manager Charlie Manuel said.

The Reds are never good at home, where they've gone 11-32 and
lost their fans. Not even a game against the intrastate rival
Indians could bring a good showing at the gate or on the field.

Chris Reitsma (4-8) gave up 10 hits and six runs in five
innings, including solo homers by Thome and Gonzalez -- the same two
players who homered off him in a start at Jacobs Field last month.

"Reitsma made six or seven mistakes, and they pounded every one
of them," somber Reds manager Bob Boone said. "We didn't do much
of anything tonight."

Ricardo Rincon and Danys Baez completed a seven-hitter, giving
the down-and-out Reds their fourth shutout of the season. It was
the first shutout in the Cleveland-Cincinnati interleague series.

Only 28,816 fans turned out on a clear, 79-degree evening -- by
far the smallest crowd of the intrastate series. Indians games had
been the biggest draw at Cinergy Field in recent years, averaging
crowds of 49,479.

In the past, thousands of Indians fans would make the four-hour
drive and turn Cinergy into a Jacobs Field South. A much smaller
Cleveland contingent did most of the cheering Thursday.

Thome's homer to right-center field set the tone and extended
his tear. He also had an RBI single in the ninth, leaving him
batting .454 in his last 11 games with seven homers.

Thome went 3-for-4 in his last game before the All-Star break,
then fretted that he might lose his tough during the three days
off.

"I really didn't want an All-Star break," Thome said. "You
enjoy the good times in this game because there's a lot of bad
ones."

Cleveland took control with four runs in the fourth. Travis
Fryman's bases-loaded double drove in two, and Kenny Lofton knocked
in two more with a soft single to center that landed in front of
Ken Griffey Jr., who is still limited by a hamstring injury.

Gonzalez's solo homer made it 6-0 in the fifth.

The big offensive game wasn't surprising for the Indians, who
lead the AL in hitting. The performance by Colon was especially
encouraging.

The Indians' top starter and best hope for a playoff run had
been pedestrian in his last 11 starts, going 2-5 with a 6.01 ERA.
He got out of the rut with his first scoreless performance since
April 18, when he shut out Baltimore for eight innings.

Colon's fastball got nastier as the game went along. It started
out in the low 90s and was clocked at 99 mph in the seventh, when
the Reds had their only rally.

"At times, he was just overpowering," Reds first baseman Sean
Casey said. "It seemed like about the third inning, he started to
heat up."

Cincinnati loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh, and
Alex Ochoa hit a grounder up the middle. Second baseman Roberto
Alomar dived and stretched out to snag it, then flipped from his
glove to shortstop Omar Vizquel for an ovation-drawing forceout.

Game notes
The Indians lead the overall series 12-10. ... LHP Chuck
Finley, on the DL with a sore neck, is scheduled to start for
Double-A Akron on Sunday. ... Colon struck out swinging in his
three at-bats. He is 2-for-18 career at the plate. ... Reds batting
coach Ken Griffey Sr. rejoined the team after taking three weeks
off to get treatment for a painful back and neck. ... Pete Rose
Jr., playing for the Reds' Double-A team, has been placed on the DL
with a sprained right knee. ... C Jason LaRue picked Lofton off
first base in the third and nailed him as he tried to steal second
base an inning later. ... Griffey went 1-for-4, leaving him in a
3-for-28 slump.