Gretzky The Great Sees Tribe Make It 8

Scott Elarton scraped away some rust and then polished off the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday night. The right-hander pitched well enough to help the Indians win 3-1 for their eighth straight victory.

"I didn't really have command of my fastball until the fourth inning, but for some reason my offspeed pitches were working and got me through it," said Elarton, who had not pitched in 10 days. "I definitely was rusty for three innings."

Elarton (4-2) was not pleased earlier in the week when he was skipped over in the rotation in favor of Jake Westbrook and then Kevin Millwood when the latter was activated off the disabled list.

"I understand their thinking and I've got to go along with it," Elarton said Saturday. "But this team has something going and I want to be part of it. I want to contribute."

He did, allowing one run and six hits over 6 1/3 innings before turning it over to Cleveland's reliable relievers. Scott Sauerbeck (2/3 of an inning), Arthur Rhodes and Bob Wickman (one inning apiece) shut down the Diamondbacks the rest of the way, with Wickman getting his AL-leading 19th save.

Trailing, 1-0, Travis Hafner hit the first pitch of the bottom of the second inning for his ninth homer to tie the score.

Grady Sizemore put Cleveland ahead with an RBI double in the fifth and another run scored on a groundout by Coco Crisp.

Casey Blake singled to start that two-run rally after making a fine defensive play in the top half of the inning that manager Eric Wedge said was one of the best he's ever seen from a third baseman in foul territory.

Blake, playing third for the first time since being switched to the outfield in spring training, dove over the rolled-up tarp and into the stands down the left-field line to snare a high popup.

"I just decided to go for it," he said. "Fortunately, the fans got out of the way and gave me a chance."

Blake started in place of Aaron Boone, who simply got a day off to rest. Boone did make an appearance, however, before the game as he caught the ceremonial first pitch from hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky. "The Great One" was in town promoting prostate cancer awareness and went on both team's telecasts of the game to talk about getting checkups to prevent the disease.


Kinston third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff was chosen as the Class A Carolina League Player of the Month for May by a poll of the league's managers. Kouzmanoff batted .327 (36-for-110) with four home runs and 29 RBIs during May. He has been on the disabled list since June 7 with a strained lower back.

CLASS AAA BUFFALO (42-27) got only three hits and lost at Indianapolis, 6-3. The Bisons had only one hit -- a leadoff single in the second inning by Jeff Liefer (.309) until the ninth inning. Mike Kinkade (.278) was hit by a pitch and Dusty Wathan (.273) hit a two-out single. Then Andy Abad (.265) hit a three-run homer, his 12th. Billy Traber (2-2, 4.63 ERA) allowed six runs over six innings and Francisco Cruceta (5.16 ERA) worked two scoreless innings.

CLASS AA AKRON (40-27) lost at home to Bowie, 8-3. Brad Snyder (.320) hit a solo homer, his third, and drove in two runs, Pat Osborn (.253) went 2-for-4 and Jose Morban (.258) had an RBI for the Aeros. Dan Denham (5-4, 3.49 ERA) allowed eight runs ove 6 2/3 innings, though only six runs were earned. Steve Green (3.82 ERA) worked a scoreless 1 1/3 innings and Victor Kleine (1.69 ERA), sent back down to Akron on Friday from Buffalo, pitched a scoreless ninth.

CLASS A KINSTON (40-29) got only three hits and lost at Myrtle Beach, 7-3, one night after clinching the first half championship in the Southern Division of the Carolina League.. Chris De La Cruz (.240) went 2-for-4 and scored twice and Rodney Choy Foo (.286) was 1-for-3 with a run. Nick Pesco (6-6, 4.07 ERA) gave up five runs (four earned) over six innings and Matt Davis (5.26 ERA) allowed two runs in one inning Dan Eisentrager (5.68 ERA) struck out one in one perfect inning.

CLASS A LAKE COUNTY (40-29) defeated visiting Lexington, 3-2, to pull within one game of first place in the Northern Division of the South Atlantic League, dropping the Legends (41-28) into a tie for the lead with the Hagerstown Suns. Aaron Laffey (6-3, 2.49 ERA) pitched five scoreless innings of relief for the win. Starter Dan Cevette, who had been sidelined with a broken thumb, gave up two unearned runs over 3 2/3 innings and T.J. Burton (4.04 ERA) retired the only batter he faced before Laffey, a starter who has already been named to the all-star team, came on to win the crucial game. The Captains trailed, 2-0, until Chris Gimenez (.228) hit an RBI double in the fifth to make it 2-1. Gimenez got another RBI with a forceout in the seventh to tie the score and later tallied the go-ahead run on an RBI single by Argenis Reyes (.326).

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