Indians 6, Red Sox 4
By MARK PRATT
Associated Press Writer
September 6, 2001
BOSTON (AP) -- A healthy and productive Chuck Finley is critical for the Cleveland Indians' playoff drive.
The veteran left-hander had one of his best outings of the season Thursday night in a 6-4 win over the Boston Red Sox, giving up four hits in 6 1-3 innings.
``Any time we can get a starter healthy and he can get us into the seventh inning, it makes our chances much greater,'' Indians manager Charlie Manuel said. ``That's a big plus for us. That's huge.''
The Indians increased their lead in the AL Central to seven games over Minnesota.
The Red Sox, who have lost 10 of 11, dropped 10 games behind the New York Yankees in the AL East and 10 behind the Oakland Athletics in the wild card race. The Yankees and A's were both idle Thursday.
Hampered by injuries all season, Finley (6-6) was coming off a two-inning outing Aug. 25 against Seattle in which he strained his right oblique muscle.
Finley, 38, had offseason arthroscopic knee surgery Jan. 9. He was put on the 15-day disabled list for the second time this season on June 29 with spasms in his neck and left shoulder.
But Thursday, he faced the minimum number of batters through five innings before being lifted after giving up an RBI double to Izzy Alcantara in the seventh.
``It would be easy for me to get frustrated with the fact I haven't been doing well this season,'' Finley said. ``But I can make up for it in the last month and get in the playoffs and do some good. ... I look ahead, not at what's behind me.''
The key for Finley was retiring batters quickly.
``His whole secret was keeping the pitch count down, especially in the first three or four innings,'' Manuel said.
Finley threw 78 pitches. He gave up just one hit in the first five innings, a second-inning single by Carl Everett, who was wiped out on a double play.
Juan Gonzalez drove in three runs and Roberto Alomar knocked in a pair as the Indians took a 5-0 lead after five innings.
John Rocker pitched a perfect ninth for his third save in six chances. The struggling reliever got his first save since June 26, less than a week after Cleveland got him in a trade with Atlanta.
Manuel did not plan on using Rocker, but regular closer Bob Wickman is day-to-day with a ribcage injury and Danys Baez threw 32 pitches in two innings and gave up a two-run double to Manny Ramirez in the eighth.
``I knew he'd been struggling lately ... but I was not afraid to go to Rocker,'' Manuel said. ``It was now or never.''
Alomar hit an RBI single and Gonzalez had a sacrifice fly in the first inning off Frank Castillo (8-8).
The Indians made it 3-0 in the third inning. Alomar tripled off the wall in left-center and scored on Gonzalez's sacrifice fly, with second baseman Chris Stynes catching the ball in shallow center field with his back to the infield.
``All I was trying to do was hit the ball out of the infield,'' Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez hit a sharp single through the right side of the infield in the fifth to drive in Kenny Lofton and make it 4-0.
Alomar had an RBI single in the seventh and Lofton drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth.
Castillo, six days after giving up two hits in seven shutout innings against the New York Yankees, gave up eight hits and four runs in six innings.
``It was one of those games where everything was going wrong for me,'' Castillo said. ``It's just frustrating more than anything else.''
The Red Sox scored two runs in the seventh on Alcantara's double and SheaHillenbrand's RBI grounder.
Coming off his strong outing against the Yankees, Castillo gave up hits to two of the first three batters he faced. ... Ramirez was booed after jogging down the first-base line on a routine grounder to shortstop in the second inning. ... Alomar had three hits, including his team-leading 12th triple. ... Gonzalez has hit in nine straight games. ...3B Travis Fryman was the onlyIndians starter without a hit.