That's One Giant Leap ...
Jake Westbrook delivers a big win.
Jake Westbrook delivers a big win.
Indians Ink
Posted Jul 25, 2004


Jake Westbrook wasn't exactly Neil Armstrong setting foot on the moon -- but he took the Indians where they hadn't been in quite some time.

The right-hander pitched a six-hit complete game for a 5-1 victory over Kansas City on Sunday as the Indians completed a four-game sweep of the Royals at Jacobs Field.

It was Cleveland first four-game series sweep ever over the Royals, who began play in 1969. More importantly, Cleveland's eighth win in its last 11 games gave the Indians a 50-49 record -- putting them over .500 for the first time since April 3, 2003, when they were 2-1.

"I'm happy for these guys because it is definitely a big stage," manager Eric Wedge said. "But we have to keep it going. There are a lot of games left and we can't think about .500 or limit our focus."

Second baseman Ronnie Belliard, who singled home two runs and made one of three fine defensive plays by the Indians infield, agreed.

"We want a lot more than to play .500," he said. "I think getting over means we don't have to worry about that any more. Every time we got to .500, we lost two or three in a row."

The Indians had been 0-5 this season in games where they tried to get past the .500 barrier.

"We're over .500?" said outfielder Matt Lawton, who missed his third straight start with a strained right hamstring. "That sounds OK, I guess, but playing .500 isn't this team's goal.

"It's a nice stepping stone, but we've got a little more than two months left and we've got to get it up to five or 10 games over .500."

Cleveland used a four-run first inning to catapult past the Royals.

Jody Gerut, batting leadoff for the first time this season, doubled, was bunted to third by Omar Vizquel and scored on Travis Hafner's broken-bat RBI single.

Casey Blake doubled Hafner to third and after Ben Broussard walked to load the bases, Belliard hit a two-run single to make it 3-0. Coco Crisp followed with an RBI groundout.

Grady Sizemore hit his first homer in his sixth big-league game in the seventh for a 5-1 lead.

Westbrook (8-5), gave up only one unearned run in his fourth complete game and credited his defense.

"Those plays were huge," he said. "Ronnie's play was unbelievable. Omar and Casey took away sure hits, too."

In the seventh, Belliard made an over-the-shoulder catch of a blooper by Angel Berroa in right field -- then easily doubled Joe Randa off first base for a double play.

"I surprised even myself," Belliard said. "I think the ball caught my glove more than my glove catching the ball."

In the eighth, Vizquel atoned for his error that led to the Royals' only run. This time, the shortstop turned a sharply hit ball up the middle by David DeJesus into an out with a diving stop and throw.

In the ninth, third baseman Blake dived to his left to turn a ball hit by Ken Harvey into a double play.

"All those plays saved me," Westbrook said. "They completely changed the course of the game."

Gerut, who had been in a 14-for-76 (.184) slump that sent his average down to .247, went 2-for-4.

"It's been a grind for me," Gerut said. "I probably care a little too much and that might be part of the problem. But I'm going to work my way out of this."

Sizemore got the ball he hit for his first big-league homer -- but had to trade an autographed ball and bat to the fan who caught it.

"It's something I'll always treasure," said the 21-year-old outfielder. "I felt like I was jammed on the pitch, but I guess I wasn't."


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