Carmona's Gem Lifts Indians Over Royals

Saturday, September 15th 2007, 9:36 pm
By: News On 6

CLEVELAND (AP) _ Fausto Carmona pitched three-hit ball over eight innings, retiring his final 16 batters and leading the Cleveland Indians over the Kansas City Royals 6-0 Saturday night.

Travis Hafner homered for Cleveland, which cut its magic number to nine for clinching its first AL Central title since 2001. The Indians, who have won 17 of their last 21 games, remained 5 1/2 games ahead of second-place Detroit.

Carmona (17-8) struck out nine and walked none, winning his third straight start. Rafael Perez finished with a perfect ninth, striking out the side.

Cleveland first baseman Ryan Garko left the game in the bottom of the eighth when he was hit on the right hand by a throw from shortstop Jason Smith.

Kansas City, which lost for the ninth time in 10 games, advanced one runner to third base.

Zack Grienke (6-6) allowed two runs _ one earned _ and four hits in 5 1-3 innings.

Cleveland went ahead in the first after first baseman Billy Butler fielded Grady Sizemore's grounder but made an errant underhand toss that pulled Grienke off the bag for an error. Sizemore scored on Asdrubal Cabrera's double.

Hafner's 22nd homer made it 2-0 in the third. Garko, who walked, was thrown out at the plate on a relay from second baseman Mark Grudzielanek when he tried to score on Johnny Peralta's double.

Cleveland padded the lead in the eighth, helped by two errors. Shortstop Jason Smith's bad throw on Garko's single allowed Victor Martinez to score from second, and right fielder Mark Teahen dropped Franklin Gutierrez's sacrifice fly as pinch-runner Josh Barfield came home. Casey Blake added a two-run single off Ryan Braun.

Notes: Cabrera has hits in 12 of his last 13 games and the Indians are 16-3 when he bats second. ... The Indians are 22-8 since Aug. 15. ... Royals DH Mike Sweeney (strained right groin) wasn't in the lineup Saturday night. He was injured running the bases Friday. ... C Jason LaRue was 0-for-2, dropping his season average to .144.