Tribe Tops Toronto On Peralta's Homer

Jhonny Peralta watches his game-winner.

Jhonny Peralta is starting to show Cleveland fans how he won the International League's MVP Award in 2004 at Buffalo.

The young shortstop hit his fifth homer to break a 2-2 seventh-inning tie and give the Indians a 3-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday.

Cleveland's first three-game winning streak of the season made it four wins in five games for the Indians, who waited through two rain delays totaling two hours, 19 minutes to do it.

Peralta, in the unenviable position of being the man who replaces legendary shortstop Omar Vizquel in Cleveland, is overcoming a slow start.

The 22-year-old has batted .417 (10-for-24) with four homers and six RBI during a seven-game hitting streak that has raised his average to .269.

"Jhonny has some strength in his bat," manager Eric Wedge told reporters as the shy shortstop slipped away from post-game interviews. "That was a huge hit in a late-inning situation, but he's been swinging the bat well for a while now."

Last year, Peralta won MVP honors as he hit .326 with 15 homers, 109 runs and 86 homers to help Buffalo win the Class AAA International League title.

Left-hander Arthur Rhodes (2-1) retired all three batters he faced for the win, right-hander Bob Howry worked a perfect eighth and Bob Wickman pitched the ninth for his seventh consecutive save and 11th save in 13 tries.

That came after lefty Scott Sauerbeck worked a scoreless 1 2/3 innings and right-hander Rafael Betancourt a hitless 1 1/3. Indians relievers have given up just one run over 11 1/3 innings in the rain-drenched series.

"The bullpen did a great job again," Wedge said. "It's been a little tough on them because you can't control the weather, but we even had a couple guys we didn't use and we're in good shape." Toronto took a 2-0 lead in the second inning off Indians starter Kevin Millwood, but Ben Broussard's two-run double tied it in the bottom half.

NOTABLE: OF Juan Gonzalez, sidelined nearly two months by a strained hamstring, played his first game in the outfield since March 26 on Saturday. Gonzalez went 1-for-3 and played three innings in right field in his second game at the Indians' extending spring training program in Florida. ... Tribe OF Coco Crisp is batting .419 (13-for-31) during a nine-game hitting streak.

MINOR MATTERS

CLASS AAA BUFFALO (20-15)
rallied to win 5-4 in 11 innings in Charlotte. Brandon Phillips singled home the winning run. Jody Gerut (.415) hit his third homer, a solo shot in the third inning and Ernie Young (.302) hit his sixth, a two-run blast in the sixth for Buffalo. Gerut, Young, Phillips (.245), Jeff Liefer (.198) and Jake Gautreau (.284) all had two hits for the Bisons. Buffalo starter Jeremy Guthrie (6.88 ERA) gave up four runs and nine hits over seven innings with all the runs scoring in the fifth inning when Charlotte tied the score at 4-4. Andrew Brown (6.75 ERA) pitched two hitless innings and Jake Robbins (4.15 ERA) worked the final two scoreless innings for the win.

CLASS A AKRON (21-13) won at New Britain, 9-3, as Franklin Gutierrez (No. 3), Jason Cooper (No. 9) and Jonathan Van Every (No. 5) all hit home runs. Gutierrez (.248), Cooper (.272), Eider Torres (.277), Jose Morban (.256) and Javier Herrera (.190) all had two of the Aeros' 15 hits. Billy Traber (2-1, 3.32 ERA) struck out 10 without a walk over 7 2/3 innings. The left-hander allowed two runs on four hits. Steve Green gave up a homer and struck out two over the final 1 1/3 innings.

CLASS A KINSTON (21-14) fell behind 6-2 and could not catch up in Frederick, losing, 10-7. Third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff (.379) went 3-for-4 with three runs, two doubles and his seventh homer, a two-run blast. Left fielder Nathan Panther (2-for-3, .252) was the only other Kinston player with more than one hit. Rafael Perez (4-2) gave up five runs on four hits and three walks over two innings without a strikeout. Jim Ed Warden (9.00 ERA) allowed five runs (three earned) over three innings, but Mariano Gomez (2.38 ERA) continued his comeback from a poor April at Akron by working three scoreless innings before Dan Eisentrager (7.20 ERA) struck out all three batters he faced.

CLASS A LAKE COUNTY (19-15) had its game at Hickory (N.C.) suspended by rain with the score tied 1-1 in the middle of the sixth inning. The teams will resume the game at that point Sunday at 1:30 p.m., with the regularly scheduled nine-inning game to follow. The Captains scored in the first inning when Argenis Reyes singled, stole second and scored on a single by Mike Butia. Captains starter Reid Santos (8.05 ERA) allowed one run, four hits and one walk over five innings, striking out four.

JHONNY PERALTA'S MINOR-LEAGUE CAREER:

Yr

Team

Age

G

AB

H

AVG

HR

RBI

SB

BB

SO

99

Dom. Indians

17

62

208

63

.303

6

43

14

33

49

00

Columbus

18

106

349

84

.241

3

34

7

59

102

01

Kinston

19

125

441

106

.240

7

47

4

58

148

02

Akron

20

130

470

132

.281

15

62

4

45

97

03

Buffalo

21

63

237

61

.257

1

21

1

15

45

04

Buffalo

22

139

560

181

.323

15

86

8

55

129

Minor Totals

625

2265

627

.277

47

293

38

265

570



JHONNY PERALTA'S MAJOR-LEAGUE CAREER:

Yr

Team

Age

G

AB

H

AVG

HR

RBI

SB

BB

SO

03

Cleveland

21

77

242

55

.227

4

21

1

20

65

04

Cleveland

22

8

25

6

.240

0

2

0

3

6

05

Cleveland

22

27

78

21

.269

5

10

0

9

20

MLB Totals

112

345

82

.238

9

33

1

32

91

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