Hafner Returns; Tribe Tops Orioles

Jeremy Sowers ... eight strong innings.

It's taken the Indians until nearly the last chapter to get the story of their season back to its original outline. Travis Hafner played for the first time since May and Jeremy Sowers pitched the way the Indians anticipated he would in a 6-1 win over the Orioles in Baltimore on Tuesday night. Cleveland's "one through nine" offense came back from wherever it had gone for summer vacation, too.

Eight Indians had a hit, four of them had two hits, and six different Cleveland players got an RBI. The Tribe scored one run apiece in six different innings.

"It think just having Hafner in the lineup makes everybody else a little better," manager Eric Wedge said. "He looked good, but some good swings on the ball. It's great to have him back."

Wedge also was pleased with Sowers (3-8, 5.60 ERA), who had his best outing of the season. The lefty gave up four hits and one run over eight innings, striking out seven and allowing only one walk.

"He was strong out there," Wedge said. "He had one little stumble there in the middle, then came back and was even stronger in the late innings.

"He had good command, didn't try to do too much and located his fastball well. That made his changeup more effective, too."

Sowers came in 0-2 with a 9.50 ERA in his career against Baltimore and was 1-5 with a 7.43 ERA in nine road starts this season overall.

"I don't think it really matters how you've been pitching. When you pitch well, you pitch well," Sowers said. "I'm proud of it. It's nice to be able to command all three pitches. That hasn't happened too often."

Wedge said getting ahead in the count was key for Sowers.

"That's the way you love to see Jeremy pitch," he said. "It goes back to what we've always talked about -- being able to command his fastball, move it left to right on the plate, up and down. He did a pretty good job of strike one today; he worked ahead for the most part.

"He just kept going. He didn't alter anything," Wedge said. "I think his focus, his mind-set, stayed the same. That's what you like to see your starting pitcher do."

Hafner went 2-for-4 with a walk in his first game for Cleveland since May 25, when he was placed on the disabled list with a weak and sore right shoulder.

"This is as good as I've felt in a long time," said Hafner, a career .290 hitter whose average had dipped to .217 when he was sidelined.

Cleveland's 5-6-7-8 hitters all had two hits, starting with Hafner (.224). Kelly Shoppach (.265) went 2-for-3 with two walks, two runs and an RBI; while Michael Aubrey (.242) and Andy Marte (.207) both were 2-for-5 with an RBI.

Jhonny Peralta (.276) put Cleveland ahead with a two-out RBI single in the first inning. Peralta reached on an error in the third, moved up on a single by Hafner and scored on a single by Aubrey to make it 2-0.

Asdrubal Cabrera (.240) walked and scored on a triple by David Dellucci (.244) in the fourth.

Shoppach doubled and scored on a double by Marte in the fifth to make it 4-1.

A sacrifice fly by Cabrera made it 5-1 in the seventh and Shoppach hit an RBI double in the eighth to finish the scoring.

Shin-Soo Choo (.297) went 0-for-5, ending his 12-game hitting streak. He had reached base safely in 28 straight games.

Left-hander Scott Lewis is scheduled to make his big-league debut Wednesday night in Baltimore for the Tribe.

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