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03/20/09 7:45 PM ET

Lewis lays claim to fifth spot in rotation

Indians lefty holds A's scoreless for five innings in relief

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Has a new favorite emerged in the fight for the Indians' last rotation spot?

Manager Eric Wedge wouldn't go so far as to handicap the remaining contenders, but it's certain that left-hander Scott Lewis is near the top of the list, particularly after his five scoreless innings of relief against the A's in a 7-6 victory at Goodyear Ballpark on Friday.

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"He's right in the middle of everything," Wedge said. "I'll tell you that much. He's had as good a camp as any starting pitcher we have here. [Friday] was definitely a positive step for him."

Lewis relieved Carl Pavano in the fifth and allowed just four hits with two walks and four strikeouts the rest of the way. He did a nice job working his way out of trouble.

"You saw a lot of what you love to see in certain situations," Wedge said. "He made pitches when he needed to. What we've seen throughout camp is a guy hitting his spots with his fastball, pitching aggressively and changing speeds to keep hitters off-balance."

That's what the Indians saw at the end of last year, too. Lewis came up to the big leagues from Double-A Akron to replace an injured Anthony Reyes in the rotation and went 4-0 with a 2.63 ERA in four starts. Lewis threw eight scoreless innings in a memorable debut against the Orioles.

But it was Aaron Laffey who entered camp as the favorite for the fifth spot. Each of Laffey's five Cactus League appearances has been in a starting role, but he's had uneven results, going 1-2 with a 6.92 ERA in 13 innings.

Lewis has been more consistent, but he's only started one game and therefore hasn't had as much exposure to Major League lineups. He is now 1-1 with a 3.52 ERA in 15 1/3 innings over five appearances.

"He's picking up where he left off last year," Wedge said. "He's working hard to break [camp] with us."

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.