Indians send O's to 10th straight loss
David Huff and Asdrubal Cabrera are showing why the Cleveland Indians believe they can bounce back next year.
Huff pitched eight innings, Cabrera drove in three runs and tied a career high with four hits, and the Indians beat Baltimore 9-0 on Sunday to extend the Orioles' skid to 10 games.
"It's been a rough 10 games for us," Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said. "I think when the game turns hard in one direction it has a way of snowballing and getting out of line."
The Orioles have scored 29 runs during the streak, which matches their 10-game slide Sept. 17-26, 2008 - but is far from the team record of 21 consecutive losses to open the 1988 season.
Cleveland swept a three-game series for the first time since July 24-26 at Seattle. The Indians entered the weekend with 11 straight losses, one short of the 78-year-old franchise record.
Huff (11-8) gave up five singles, struck out five and walked two to improve to 6-2 in eight starts since Aug. 9. The left-hander was called up in mid-May and still leads the club in wins. He went 5-1 at Triple-A Columbus and was 0-2 in four starts for Cleveland before earning his first career victory June 7 against the Chicago White Sox.
"I thought I could pitch up here, but you never know until you come up," Huff said. "I've tried to watch and learn from the veterans. The big thing has been keeping it in the (strike) zone and being efficient with my pitches."
Huff matched his previous best start of eight shutout innings in a 5-4 win at Pittsburgh on June 23.
"This has been a great developmental year for him," manager Eric Wedge said. "He's really stringing it together at the end. I like his focus, his attitude, and he has an edge to him. What he's doing is encouraging and making a good case for himself for next year."
With 12 rookies on the roster, the Indians are 6-20 since Aug. 30, leading to speculation that Wedge will not return for the final year of his contract. Cleveland, considered a preseason contender in the AL Central, has not been within 10 games of first place since June 20.
Kelly Shoppach's three-run homer capped Cleveland's six-run first off Chris Tillman (2-5). Cabrera hit a two-run double and scored on a two-out single by Andy Marte before Shoppach connected for his 12th homer.
It was Cleveland's biggest first inning of the season. The Indians were outscored 88-48 in the first inning over their first 154 games.
Cleveland loaded the bases with two outs in the second, but center fielder Jeff Fiorentino made a fine running catch on Matt LaPorta's drive to bail out Tillman.
LaPorta hit his seventh homer on the first pitch from Chris Lambert in the seventh.
Tillman gave up six runs and six hits in two innings, the shortest of his 12 career starts.
"I couldn't put guys away," Tillman said. "I threw some good pitches. I threw some bad pitches they took advantage of."
The right-hander is 1-5 with a 5.70 ERA in eight starts since earning his first career win Aug. 14 against the Los Angeles Angels. The Orioles have scored two or fewer runs while he was in the game in nine of his starts.
NOTES: Indians RHP Joe Smith, out since Sept. 1 with an inflamed left knee, did not throw a bullpen session as planned. "It's not throwing, it is my agility," Smith said. "I can't move side to side." ... The sweep was Cleveland's first at home over the Orioles since Aug. 19-21, 2005. ... Orioles OF Nick Markakis went 0 for 3, extending his slump to 6-for-53 (.113). ... The four-hit game was Cabrera's fifth this year and sixth of his career. He's hitting .327 with 24 RBIs since Aug. 1. ... Baltimore has allowed 205 homers, most in the majors, and lost seven straight on the road. ... Cleveland concludes its home season with three games against the White Sox, beginning Monday. ... The Indians have lost 11 in a row on the road. The team record is 12, in 1963 and 1991. ... Orioles OF Luke Scott went 2 for 4 and hit .421 (10 for 21) against the Indians, who drafted him in the ninth round in 2001.... Orioles 3B Melvin Mora, in a 2-for-24 slide, did not play.