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Indians take rubber game from Mariners


Seattle reliever J.J. Putz waits while Victor Martinez circles the bases after a 3-run homer.
 (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Seattle reliever J.J. Putz waits while Victor Martinez circles the bases after a 3-run homer. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Associated Press

CLEVELAND – Kevin Millwood finally had something to smile about: run support.

The right-hander won for the first time in five July starts and Victor Martinez hit a three-run homer, helping the Cleveland Indians beat the Seattle Mariners 6-3 Sunday.

“I was pretty happy, to say the least,” Millwood said.

Martinez’s third hit of the game and 11th homer of the season, off reliever J.J. Putz in the seventh inning, gave Millwood (4-9) more runs on one swing than the Indians have averaged in the pitcher’s 18 starts. During Millwood’s four-game losing streak, the Indians had been shut out three times and scored a total of two runs.

“It’s been a while,” Millwood said. “To get that extra cushion was really nice. I think it gave everybody a little chance to relax and that’s important in this game. I think it’s the toughest sport of all to play.”

He had not won since pitching six superb innings in a 7-0 victory over Boston on June 27.

“I’ve just tried to concern myself with what I can control and not worry about the offense,” Millwood said. “It was not for lack of effort that they didn’t score runs. They’ve been trying.”

Millwood, getting only 2.7 runs a game of support, gave up two runs – one earned – and three hits over 7 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out five as the Indians won for the second time in the three-game series.

“I can’t say enough about the way Kevin battles,” manager Eric Wedge said. “He competes as well as anybody in the league.”

Cleveland improved to only 5-12 since July 5. The Indians play 13 of their next 16 games on the road.

Aaron Sele (6-11) dropped his sixth straight start and remained winless since mid-June as Seattle lost for the fifth time in six games.

“I thought I kept my team in the game, but I needed to outpitch Millwood and didn’t,” Sele said. “He was nasty.”

Jhonny Peralta singled home a run to put Cleveland ahead 1-0 in the first – the first time Millwood had a lead in 26 1/3 innings.

“Then I gave it right back,” Millwood said.

Richie Sexson hit a 3-2 pitch for his 23rd homer leading off the second. That made Sexson 6 for 14 (.429) with three homers and nine RBIs in his career against Millwood, who retired the first baseman the next two times up – once on a foul popup and then on a drive that Coco Crisp caught at the base of the left-field wall.

Sexson said that despite his numbers against Millwood, the right-hander is tough.

“He doesn’t fall into patterns, he kept us off-balance all day,” Sexson said. “I know his record doesn’t show it, but his ERA (3.19) does.”

Seattle scored an unearned run in the third to go ahead 2-1. Randy Winn hit a leadoff double, advanced on a groundout and scored when Adrian Beltre’s two-out line drive glanced off center fielder Grady Sizemore’s glove for an error.

Martinez singled to start the sixth, took third on a double by Ben Broussard and scored on a sacrifice fly by Ronnie Belliard to tie it at 2. Casey Blake delivered another sac fly off Julio Mateo to score Broussard with the go-ahead run.

Sele gave up three runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings, falling to 0-6 since a 5-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on June 15. The right-hander is 5-10 in his career against Cleveland and has not defeated the Indians since Sept. 7, 1999.

Beltre snapped an 0-for-14 slump with a homer in the ninth inning off Indians closer Bob Wickman.

Notes

Rain delayed the start of the game 68 minutes. … Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner missed his eighth straight game with a concussion. … The Mariners are 8-23 in games in which they have allowed a first-inning run. … Seattle fell to 11-6 in games on Sunday, the only day of the week in which the Mariners have a winning record. … Cleveland is 30-1 when scoring six or more runs. … Mariners’ right-handed pitcher Shigetoshi Hasegawa made his 500th career pitching appearance. … Cleveland finished an 11-game homestand 4-7. … Martinez has hit .331 (39 for 118) with five homers and 21 RBIs in his last 35 games.

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