Peralta, Indians cruise past Sox

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CLEVELAND (AP) – Cliff Lee gave Cleveland’s banged-up bullpen some needed rest, and Jhonny Peralta hit a three-run homer to give the Indians a 7-1 win over the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night.

Lee (2-1) allowed one run and four hits in six innings, helping the Indians end a three-game losing streak and win for just the fifth time in 14 games.

The left-hander’s quality start was only the second in eight games for Cleveland’s staff, which has three relievers on the disabled list and is still waiting for ace C.C. Sabathia to get back from the DL.

Lee was aided by two double plays and he worked out of trouble in the third and sixth innings. Jason Davis pitched two scoreless inning and Bob Wickman finished up the five-hitter.

Wily Mo Pena homered for Boston, which lost for the first time in seven games at Jacobs Field.

The Indians took a 3-0 lead in the first on Peralta’s homer off Tim Wakefield (1-4), and they were also helped by four passed balls charged to Boston’s Josh Bard, who spent the night chasing pitches back to the screen.

Wakefield’s dancing, dipping and dangling knuckleball has been giving Bard fits all year. He has 10 passed balls already, one more than Bard had in his first four major league seasons combined.

Two of Cleveland’s runs were unearned because Bard couldn’t corral floaters by Wakefield, who gave up three runs and five hits in 5 2-3 innings.

Cleveland was able to take advantage of Wakefield’s soft tosses, stealing three bases to match their season total through 20 games.

Lee pitched in and out of trouble in the third, when he gave up his first hit – a soft single to Bard – and walked two to load the bases with two outs. He quickly went 0-2 on David Ortiz before just missing twice on the outside corner. Lee then struck out Boston’s big slugger, fooling Ortiz with an inside fastball.

Lee wasn’t so fortunate an inning later as Pena drove his second homer over the wall in right-center.

But the Indians got the run back in the bottom of the inning when Bard had two passed balls, the second allowing Victor Martinez to score from third.

In the sixth, Boston put runners at first and second with one out, but Lee got Mike Lowell to fly out and struck out Pena.

Bard’s fourth passed ball set up Cleveland’s fifth run. Martinez singled to open the sixth, moved up when Bard fanned on an inside pitch and Aaron Boone hit a two-out RBI double to make it 5-1.

Boone and Casey Blake added run-scoring singles in the eighth.

Peralta snapped an 0-for-12 slump with his three-run shot in the first off Wakefield, whose knuckleball doesn’t drop nearly as much in cool weather.

Grady Sizemore walked leading off and stole second before Jason Michaels beat out an infield single. Peralta followed by pulling a 2-1 pitch over the wall in left for his third homer to make it 3-0.

Notes: Eleven years later, a glass pyramid trophy awarded to former Indians pitcher Orel Hershiser for winning the 1995 ALCS MVP was finally returned to the right-hander. Hershiser had forgotten about it after allowing the team to display the award in its gift shop. Hershiser did color commentary for the game on ESPN. … Wickman remains one save shy of tying Doug Jones’ club career mark of 129. … Despite the loss, the Red Sox are 11-5 at the Jake since 2002. … Sabathia planned to make a rehab start Thursday at Triple-A Buffalo. He has been sidelined since straining an oblique muscle on opening day. Without a setback, he will start next week against Chicago or Oakland. … The Indians stole three bases in a game three times last season.

AP-ES-04-26-06 2200EDT

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