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Loss a case of theft


Loss a case of theft
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Cliff Lee has seen enough of Justin Verlander.

For the second consecutive start, Lee pitched well against Detroit but only had a loss to show for it because of Verlander.

Verlander threw a two-hitter and struck out 11 as the Tigers defeated the Indians , 1-0, Friday night at Progressive Field.

Sunday in Detroit, Verlander gave up one run on two hits and struck out 11 in seven innings of a 3-1 conquest of Lee and the Tribe.

Evidently, Verlander (3-2, 4.50 ERA) did not take too kindly to getting knocked around the yard repeatedly by the Indians last season. He was 1-5 with a 6.49 ERA in six starts against them in 2008.

In his previous eight outings in Cleveland, Verlander went 1-7 with a 9.00 ERA.

"Verlander might have been even better than he was [Sunday]," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "It was a great-pitched game between two guys who got after it."

Lee (1-5, 3.45 ERA) allowed three runs on 12 hits in seven innings Sunday.

He gave up seven hits and the run in eight Friday. But the reigning AL Cy Young winner had the misfortune of opposing a pitcher whose stuff was positively electric.

"The way he pitched the last time, there was a good chance he would keep it a low-scoring game again," Lee said. "It was up to me to put up as many zeros as I could."

The Indians have scored two runs in Lee's past four starts, three of them resulting in losses.

"There are many aspects of the game that are out of my hands," Lee said. "My job is to give my team a chance to win."

Lee would have been off the hook if not for a spectacular catch by Curtis Granderson in the ninth inning. With pinch runner Josh Barfield on first and one out, Grady Sizemore cracked Verlander's 115th pitch high and deep to center.

Granderson tracked it, checked the wall and leaped. He reached over the yellow line and brought back the ball, momentarily depriving the Tribe of a 12-18 record.

"When Grady hit it, I wasn't sure he got enough of it," Wedge said. "Obviously, it was an unbelievable play. When you're struggling, the game does everything it can to beat you down. But you've got to keep fighting." Verlander fanned Asdrubal Cabrera to make 11-19 official. Verlander threw 79 of 118 pitches for strikes. Luis Valbuena, desperate to remove the goat horns, had opened the inning with a walk. He was forced at second on Kelly Shoppach's bunt attempt. Shoppach gave way to Barfield.

Valbuena's defensive miscue in the top of the eighth led to the game's only run.

With one out, Granderson walked and stole second. Granderson barely got his foot in ahead of the tag.

After Placido Polanco's grounder moved him to third, Clete Thomas hit a slow roller to second. Valbuena fielded the ball cleanly but double-clutched upon transferring it to his right hand. Thomas beat Valbuena's throw by an eyelash as Granderson crossed.

"It looked like he had trouble getting a grip on the ball," Wedge said of Valbuena. "He's playing hard, he's a smart ballplayer. He's doing a good job."

The play was ruled a hit, although official scorer Bob Maver said he would watch tape later Friday night. Maver has until the first pitch today to change his mind.

Hit or error, Valbuena took it hard. He stared into his locker for several minutes before meeting with reporters.

"I knew it was a slow roller and their guy was a fast runner, so I had to get rid of it quickly," Valbuena said through interpreter Luis Rivera. "I just didn't make the play."

The Indians managed one hit through six.

With one out in the first, Cabrera drove Verlander's pitch into left-center. Cabrera made up his mind early that he would try for two, but left fielder Ryan Raburn threw a strike to second baseman Polanco to easily erase him.

The Tribe's first legitimate scoring opportunity occurred in the seventh. After Cabrera struck out leading off, Victor Martinez went with a fastball away and doubled to left. Shin-Soo Choo hit a liner toward the hole at short, where Adam Everett laid out to grab it. Everett flipped to Polanco to double off Martinez.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: dmanoloff@plaind.com, 216-999-4664


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 12, 2009

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