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Indians' 1st win is a team effort

Indians' 1st win is a team effort
CLEVELAND _ The smart money was on the Indians snapping their five-game losing streak before they could go 0-162. Long before.

So it was hardly a shock when they beat the Blue Jays 8-4 Sunday at Progressive Field.

Maybe the best thing about the win from manager Eric Wedge's perspective is that most everyone who participated contributed something to the cause. In other words, the Indians played good Baseball for the first time this season.

"You look at the last couple of days," Wedge said, "and you could see that we were getting closer to where we wanted to be."

In the eighth inning, Travis Hafner homered for the third game in a row to expand a one-run lead to three, taking the drama out of the ninth, when Kerry Wood struck out the side to electrify the fans.

Mark DeRosa, who has struggled at the plate, homered in the third with a runner on base to give the Tribe a 3-0 lead, and Trevor Crowe got his first major-league hit, delivering a fifth-inning double to score two runs.

For a change, Tribe pitchers made enough good pitches to avoid being the culprits in another defeat.

Starter Anthony Reyes yielded three runs in the sixth inning to take the edge off what had been a superior performance. But at least he lasted six innings, something no Cleveland starter had done in the first five games of the season.

"It was big for us to have someone go six," Wedge said.

Reyes insisted there was nothing stressful about the start, despite the losing streak.

"I felt no pressure," he said. "We had already come close, and now we've got the first one out of the way."

It was Jensen Lewis who slammed the door on the Jays , when they had a chance to take the lead in the seventh.

"Jensen was the unsung hero, unquestionably," DeRosa said.

Lewis entered the game with runners on second and third, one out and a 5-4 lead. He struck out Marco Scutaro, then induced Aaron Hill to hit a lazy fly to Shin-Soo Choo in right field.

With the scary part out of the way, Lewis retired the side in the eighth, throwing a double-play ball to Adam Lind to finish off the inning.

"That was kind of the turning point in the game," Lewis said of the seventh-inning crisis. "Scutaro had been killing us the whole series. I decided that if he was going to beat us, he was going to have to hit something up and away, and I happened to get the strike out."

In an unsolicited statement of praise, Wedge added, "Jensen was outstanding. And I don't think there's much to say about Kerry Wood. You can't be much better than that."

Wood was thankful that the losing streak was over.

"The adrenalin was going when I was warming up in the bottom of the eighth," he said. "It was nice to get out there and finish a game and for us to win."

The ex-Chicago Cub recalled a season that fell apart early.

"You don't want to dig yourself too big a hole," he said. "I wasn't there for this, but one year the Cubs started 0-14. It's tough to come to the ballpark in May and be playing for nothing."

The Indians were a long way from 0-14, but they didn't want to make a test case out of the season by being forced to mount a heroic rally just to climb back to even.

"It was a great team win, and we certainly needed that," DeRosa said. "It's been a weird start to a season for me. It was frustrating, because I came out of spring training feeling good and fell into a funk. I might have dealt with it better if we hadn't been losing."

DeRosa has only three hits, but one is a three-run double that brought the Indians within one run Saturday and one is Sunday's two-run homer, giving him five RBI, tied for second on the team.

Maybe that is a reflection of how badly the club has been performing. And when a team loses its first five, the streak becomes magnified.

"I think Wedgie said it perfect," DeRosa said. "It's times 10, because you always want to get off to a good start."

Crowe struck out his first two trips to the plate, snapping his bat in two on his knee when he whiffed with the bases loaded in the third.

"That was a poor display of poise right there," he said. "I was walking back to the dugout _ I didn't know if this was going to be today or not _ but I was thinking I would be in that situation, and I would have a much better at-bat."

The "situation" Crowe found himself in was bases loaded and two outs in the fifth with the Tribe holding a two-run advantage. His double made it four.


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Added: April 13, 2009

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