Lee 19-2 As Indians Win Ninth Straight

Cliff Lee moved to 19-2 and hardly had to break a sweat to do it thanks to the Indians' offense on Tuesday night. Ben Francisco hit two homers, Jamey Carroll went deep for the first time in an Indians uniform and Kelly Shoppach homered again as Cleveland won in Detroit, 10-4, to pass the Tigers for third place in the AL Central Division. The Tribe extended their season-high winning streak to nine.

Lee gave up two runs and six hits over 7 2/3 innings to tie Brandon Webb of the Arizona Diamondbacks for the most wins in Major League Baseball.

The left-hander, winner of eight of his last nine starts, improved to 5-0 with a 1.86 ERA in August. He remained on track to give Cleveland its second AL Cy Young winner in a row, following CC Sabathia earning the honor a year ago.

Lee is one win from becoming the Indians' first 20-game winner since Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry in 1974. His 19 wins are a career high, surpassing his 18 victories in 2005.

Lee is only the eighth pitcher since 1920 to win 19 of his first 21 decisions in a season.

Year   Pitcher, Team          W  L
2001    Roger Clemens, Yankees    20  1
2008    Cliff Lee, Indians        19  2
1995    Greg Maddux, Braves       19  2
1978    Ron Guidry, Yankees       19  2
1966    Gaylord Perry, Giants     19  2
1961    Whitey Ford, Yankees      19  2
1951    Preacher Roe, Dodgers     19  2
1931    Lefty Grove, Athletics    19  2
As he has all season, Lee refused to look ahead to possible individual honors.

"I just want to get as deep in the game as I can," he said. "I want to give the team a chance to win and put up as many zeros as I can."

That's a variation of the theme he has espoused after every outing this year -- which in itself is an example of how the left-hander is trying to maintain an even keel and simply focus on one game at a time. Players say it all the time; few actually attain such a level of success.

Francisco went 3-for-4 with four RBI. He hit two-run homers in the fourth and seventh innings, giving him 14 homers and 50 RBI for the season. He beat out an infield single in the ninth to hike his average to .288.

The Indians were held hitless by Chris Lambert in his big-league debut until Carroll (.271) opened the third inning by hitting his first homer of the season. He hit a 3-2 pitch over the wall in left-center and Shoppach (.257) followed by belting a 2-1 pitch over the center-field wall.

Asdrubal Cabrera (.219) then was hit by a pitch and after Grady Sizemore (.269) fouled out, stole second base. Franklin Gutierrez (.238) then was safe at first and Cabrera scored on an error by Tigers third baseman Ryan Raburn to make it 3-0.

With two outs, Jhonny Peralta (.279) singled home Gutierrez and went to second on an error by left-fielder Marcus Thames. David Dellucci (.247) doubled home Peralta, Ryan Garko (.255) walked and Carroll added an RBI single for a 6-0 lead.

Lee gave up walk and single with two outs in the eighth. Rafael Betancourt (5.30 ERA) got Gary Sheffield to foul out to end the threat.

Edward Mujica (7.48 ERA) yielded a two-run homer to Edgar Renteria in the ninth.

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