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Giants 7, Indians 6

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP)

If the Cleveland Indians are to contend in the AL Central in 2010, they will need a reliable rotation, particularly in the No. 3 spot.

That's where Justin Masterson comes in.

The 6-foot-6, 250-pound right-hander had been a setup man early in his career with Boston, but after coming to Cleveland last August in the trade for catcher Victor Martinez, he started 10 of 11 games.

Despite a 1-7 record in those starts, the team was optimistic he could continue to build on that and become a good complement to Jake Westbrook and Fausto Carmona.

The results were not there in the Indians' 7-6 split-squad loss to San Francisco on Friday, but the 24-year-old Masterson and first-year manager Manny Acta have seen enough this spring to be hopeful for future starts in the last two weeks before the regular season.

Masterson made his third start, giving up six runs on nine hits in 3 1-3 innings, walking one and striking out four. Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff drove in three of those runs, two on a double in the first inning and the third on a single in the second.

``My sinker was a little flat early on and so we were trying to make some pitches, and the late (movement) wasn't there,'' Masterson said. ``Being good hitters, they were able to do something with it. And I was behind in the count and that doesn't help. I threw a couple change-ups that just kind of hung there. I had to force a few just to get them in there.''

Despite his struggles, he is thankful for the opportunity to step into the rotation.

``This is a good place for me to be,'' Masterson said. ``Yeah, I got my break. I'm excited, just having the chance to be a workhorse. That's the coolest thing, wanting to get the ball every five days and really set the tone. That's going to be important for this club: our starters going out there and setting the tone.''

Said Acta: ``I'm expecting a lot out of him. He's a well-rounded young man. He's a tough competitor out there. I think we saw that with the Red Sox.''

Giants left-hander Jonathan Sanchez improved a bit over his previous outing against Milwaukee. He gave up three runs on four hits in four innings.

The Giants won it on Buster Posey's RBI double with two outs in the eighth inning, but were concerned about the status of third baseman Pablo Sandoval. He was spiked in the right shin by catcher Lou Marson when he scored on Huff's double in the first.

Sandoval left the game and received five stitches. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Sandoval likely would return to the lineup on Monday or Tuesday. Ryan Rohlinger and perhaps Kevin Frandsen will see time at third during the interim.

Acta was pleased to see shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and center fielder Grady Sizemore at the top of the batting order. Cabrera returned after missing a week with a strained left groin. Sizemore, who had offseason elbow surgery and a sports hernia, collected three hits.

NOTES: Giants closer Brian Wilson recorded his first save of the spring. ... 1B Travis Ishikawa (foot) played for the first time, used by Bochy as a pinch-hitter. Ishikawa likely will play in the field on Saturday against Texas and start on Sunday against Arizona in Tucson, Ariz. ... The Indians will offer an update today on the health status of closer Kerry Wood, who has been bothered by a strained muscle in his right shoulder. ... A crowd of 12,017 watched Friday's game, the fourth sellout at Scottsdale Stadium.

Tagged: Indians, Giants, Aubrey Huff, Grady Sizemore, Travis Ishikawa, Asdrubal Cabrera, Justin Masterson, Pablo Sandoval

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