Rays 5, Indians 2
The Indians were nearing yet another defeat when Cleveland found out it lost its NBA superstar.
Carl Crawford hit a pair of two-run homers, Wade Davis stopped his six-game winless streak and the surging Tampa Bay Rays beat Cleveland 5-2 on Thursday night.
The game was in the top of the eighth when LeBron James announced he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat as a free agent. While there was no noticeable reaction in the Indians' dugout, pitchers in the bullpen were getting updates from fans via Blackberry.
``I'm sure Cleveland is not very happy about it ... a hometown guy leaving,'' Indians reliever Chris Perez said. ``I'm sure it was a very hard decision. He grew up around there. He left money on the table, so obviously it's not all about the money. It's about winning.''
Tampa Bay went ahead 2-1 on Crawford's two-run shot in the first inning off Jake Westbrook. His second two-run drive and Carlos Pena's solo homer made it 5-2 in the third.
``He is a rare combination of speed and power. ... It doesn't surprise me at all,'' Rays manager Joe Maddon said about Crawford. ``I watch him in BP every day. I know what he's capable of doing.''
Davis (6-9) gave up two runs and four hits in seven innings.
``Pitching set the tone as usual,'' Cleveland manager Manny Acta said. ``Davis threw the ball very well. Jake made a couple mistakes on Crawford.''
Davis had gone 0-5 in six starts since beating the Chicago White Sox on May 29.
``It's been a while,'' Davis said. ``That was awesome, getting that out of the way, especially before the All-Star break.''
Tampa Bay has won six in a row and is 7-1 in July. The Rays were 11-14 during June.
``Happy with the win. Happy that the team is winning again,'' Crawford said. ``It's been a good week for us.''
Michael Brantley hit his first major league homer for the Indians, who have lost 23 of their last 35 road games. Westbrook (5-5) allowed five runs and eight hits over six innings.
Dan Wheeler pitched 1 2-3 innings for his first save.
It was Crawford's fifth career multihomer game and first since June 25, 2008, at Florida. Pena has 23 career homers against Cleveland, his most against any opponent.
Brantley put the Indians ahead on a first-inning leadoff homer. Andy Marte tied it at 2 in the second with his first homer since April 22.
It was the first time Westbrook pitched against Tampa Bay since Aug. 18, 2007. The right-hander, who had gone 5-0 in his six previous outings against the Rays, watched James' announcement on a clubhouse television.
``Because I didn't pitch very well I got in early to see him,'' Westbrook said. ``Guys leave in free agency all the time. It's the nature of sports. He made that decision and I guess he feels like it's best for him and his family.''
NOTES: Indians 1B Matt LaPorta (head bruise and sore neck) could return to the lineup Friday or Saturday. He was accidentally elbowed in the head by Texas SS Elvis Andrus on Monday. ... The Rays anticipate RHP Matt Garza will start on Saturday. Garza made his first relief appearance in three years and recorded his first career save by getting two outs to close Wednesday's 6-4 win over Boston. He was cast in that role because All-Star closer Rafael Soriano had worked the previous four days and Garza lasted just three innings in his start Monday. ... Cleveland SS Asdrubal Cabrera (broken left forearm) could start a minor league rehab assignment next week.