Cliff Lee finally got just a little run support. It was enough for the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner.
Lee won for the first time in more than a month, allowing one run in his second complete game of the season to give the Cleveland Indians a 4-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Thursday night.
“He showed why he was the Cy Young winner last year,” Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said. “He never kept anything in the middle of the plate. We had a hit every inning, which is hard to do, but we couldn’t capitalize on it and put anything together.”
Lee (5-9) hadn’t won since a three-hit shutout against St. Louis on June 14, when he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning. He had lost three straight starts, thanks mostly to a lack of run support. The Indians have scored three runs or less in 11 of Lee’s 20 starts.
“We got some runs early,” Lee said. “We got a nice lead and I got ahead in the count. That’s how you win games.”
Lee allowed nine hits, including Ronny Cedeno‘s solo homer in the fifth inning. He also struck out six and didn’t walk a batter. Even after Kenji Johjima singled with two out in the ninth for his third hit of the game Indians manager Eric Wedge gave no thought to removing Lee, who struck out Chris Woodward to end it.
“It was Cliff’s game,” Wedge said. “He was in control.”
The Mariners stranded seven, but didn’t get a runner past second base other than on Cedeno’s home run.
“When people are on base, that’s where you have to bear down and get out of it,” said Lee, who is 8-1 with a 3.35 ERA in 12 career appearances against Seattle.
Grady Sizemore, batting leadoff for the first time since May 16, had two hits and drove in a run. He also banged into the center field wall after catching Cedeno’s fly ball in the third inning.
“There were some unbelievable defensive plays behind me,” Lee said.
Besides Sizemore’s catch, Lee was also helped by a dazzling double play in the seventh. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera fielded Cedeno’s ground ball in front of second base and made a behind-the-back flip to Jamey Carroll, who threw to first.
“I don’t think anyone saw the behind-the-back throw,” Wedge said. “I’m glad Jamey Carroll saw it. It would have hit him right in the chest.”
Garrett Olson (3-3) allowed three runs in 2 2-3 innings in his first start since July 4 for the Mariners, who made four errors.
Ichiro Suzuki extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a third-inning single, but it was a sloppy first game after the All-Star break for the Mariners. First baseman Russell Branyan committed two errors while pitcher Chris Jakubauskas and Woodward, the third baseman, had one each.
“The guys had three days off. The timing just wasn’t there,” Wakamatsu said.
Sizemore singled to lead off the first and scored on Cabrera’s double. Sizemore, who was on the disabled list for three weeks with a sore elbow, has been batting in the second spot.
An error by Branyan helped the Indians in the second. Woodward fielded Ben Francisco‘s ground ball, but Branyan failed to catch the ball because the sun that was setting on the other side of the field got in his eyes. Francisco was awarded second when the ball went into the stands. Branyan went to the dugout for a pair of sunglasses.
Carroll’s double scored Francisco. Sizmore’s bloop single to right made it 3-0. Jhonny Peralta added an RBI single in the fifth.
NOTES: The Mariners opened a seven-game road trip Thursday. … 3B Adrian Beltre rejoined Seattle after having shoulder surgery July 1 to remove a spur. He could start taking ground balls next week, but the team doesn’t expect to have him back for another month … Mariners DH Mike Sweeney (back spasms) took early batting practice and is on pace to be activated July 21, when he is eligible to come off the DL. … Indians manager Eric Wedge flipped C Victor Martinez and OF Shin-Soo Choo in the batting order. Martinez was moved to cleanup while Choo batted third. … Choo was caught stealing for the first time this season in the third. He had been 13 for 13 in stolen base attempts. … RHP Fausto Carmona, Cleveland’s No. 2 starter when the season began, allowed two runs in seven innings for Triple-A Columbus against Syracuse. Carmona could be called up to start on July 25.