08/18/2004 12:53 AM ET
Indians drop third straight
Lee, bullpen find no relief in defeat
By Robert Falkoff / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- The Texas Rangers are proving to be an annoying roadblock for the Indians as Cleveland attempts to travel the road to American League Central prosperity.
|Casey Blake (left) extends to place the tag on Kevin Mench in Tuesday's loss. (Linda Kaye/AP)
The Rangers roughed up Cliff Lee early and then had plenty of offensive fun against reliever Rick White in a 16-4 rout Tuesday night at Ameriquest Field.
Texas first baseman Mark Teixeira hit for the cycle, becoming the first Rangers player to do so since Oddibe McDowell on July 23, 1985. Texas, now 7-1 against the Tribe this year, never blinked after the Indians broke on top in the second thanks to a sacrifice fly by Jody Gerut.
It was all Texas thereafter as the Rangers had multiple-run innings in the second, third, fourth and fifth. Lee, who has Cleveland's only win over Texas this year, lasted just 3 1/3 innings. He was charged with eight earned runs. The game got completely out of hand when Teixeira greeted White with a three-run homer that made it 9-1 in the fourth.
Teixeira's cycle performance included seven RBIs, marking a career high. White allowed seven hits and eight runs in 1 2/3 innings of relief.
The Indians (63-58) were surging and full of confidence after beating Minnesota on Saturday. But Cleveland has now lost three games in a row and fallen 3 1/2 games behind the Twins in the AL Central.
Blame Texas for that bump in the road. Veteran right-hander Scott Erickson, who was acquired by Texas on July 31 to help stabilize a shaky starting rotation, allowed just three hits and one run over six innings and earned his first Rangers win.
Texas hadn't been hitting much in recent weeks and took out its frustration on Lee and White. The Rangers were up, 2-1, in the third when a loss of command got Lee in big trouble.
Lee walked Michael Young and hit Alfonso Soriano with a pitch to start the inning. Teixeira followed with a two-run double and it would quickly go from bad to worse for the Indians.
"It only counts for one game, no matter how many hits they got and how many runs they scored," Indians outfielder Matt Lawton said. "Right before we came here, I was reading about how the Rangers weren't playing that well. But they were swinging the bats tonight."
Lee, who started the season 10-1, has now dropped four straight decisions. Lee insists that fatigue isn't a problem, even though he came in having thrown 134 1/3 innings this season.
"I think maybe the other teams are starting to do little scouting reports and figure out my tendencies," Lee said. "Before, I pitched the same to every hitter and every team. That's what was working, so I was going to stick with it. But obviously, I've got to change a few things."
Indians manager Eric Wedge did find one positive in a lopsided loss.
"It was nice to see [Jody] Gerut hit two balls as hard as we've seen him hit them in a long time," Wedge said.
Gerut went 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs.
Wedge pulled veteran shortstop Omar Vizquel early for rest purposes and designated hitter Travis Hafner left the game early so he could rest a sore right elbow. For one night, the Indians could only salute the Rangers in general, and Teixeira in particular.
"I remember Hafner hitting for the cycle last year and how exciting that was for us," Lawton said. "Teixeira was just really locked in at the plate tonight. All four of his hits were well-struck, so you just have to give him all the credit for a great night of hitting."
The Indians were down 16-1 when they finally got to reliever Doug Brocail for three runs in the ninth.
Cleveland is hopeful that offensive surge will carry over from a momentum standpoint to the final game of the series.
Against Mickey Callaway and Erickson, a couple of pitchers on the rebound in the Rangers' rotation, Cleveland hasn't been able to do much early the last two nights.
""These guys have had our number this year, but we still have one more game to play," Wedge said. "We've done a great job of separating all year long. We've got to separate from what happened tonight. We'll come back out tomorrow with a fresh look at these guys and get after it."
Robert Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.