Sabathia wins return to Tribe

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CLEVELAND – C.C. Sabathia made a strong return after injuring himself on opening night and Travis Hafner drove in four runs to lead the Cleveland Indians over the Chicago White Sox 7-1.

Activated from the disabled list before the game, Sabathia helped stop Chicago’s winning streak at four. The White Sox had won eight in a row at Jacobs Field.

Sabathia (1-0) allowed one run in five innings and got out of a bases-loaded jam in his first appearance since leaving the April 2 opener against Chicago with a strained oblique muscle.

Hafner, who hit a grand slam Monday night, hit a three-run homer in the first inning and added an RBI single as Cleveland stopped its three-game losing streak.

White Sox slugger Jim Thome got a day for the first time this season, a night after getting booed mercilessly in his return to Cleveland. Scott Podsednik also sat after matching a club record with four steals Monday night.

Mark Buehrle (3-2) gave up seven runs on 13 hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings – easily his worst outing this season and his second straight loss.

Sabathia helped keep the Indians from dipping below .500 for the first time since opening night, when he allowed three runs and left the game in the third. The Indians went on to lose that game and have struggled with their No. 1 starter.

The big left-hander gave up five hits and four walks, striking out two, and improved to 9-3 against the White Sox.

He retired the first three batters, then put runners on in each of the next four innings. But the only real trouble he got into was in the fifth, when he loaded the bases with two outs as rain started to fall.

Joe Crede drove in a run on a grounder to Eduardo Perez, who had to throw to second because Sabathia was slow in covering first base. Rob Mackowiak reached second safely and Tadahito Iguchi scored.

Sabathia then retired Alex Cintron on a grounder to the mound.

Before Sabathia loaded the bases, Victor Martinez threw out Pablo Ozuna as he tried to steal second base. It was the first runner caught stealing in 27 attempts against Martinez.

Sabathia also was aided by Grady Sizemore’s diving catch on the warning track in center field of Crede’s drive to lead off the fourth inning.

The rain started coming down harder after Sabathia left and didn’t slow to a drizzle until the ninth.

Martinez, Perez and Jhonny Peralta also drove in runs in the fifth and sixth to give the Indians bullpen a comfortable lead.

Notes: Chicago OF Jermaine Dye returned to the lineup Tuesday, but was pulled in the third inning after reaggravating a sore left calf. … Martinez has reached base safely in 42 straight games. … White Sox C Chris Widger was hit in the head with a bat that slipped out of 2B Ronnie Belliard’s hand on the backswing in the fifth. Widger was examined by a trainer on the field and doubled in the sixth. He then left the game with dizziness and an upset stomach. … Perez is hitting .375 (12-for-32) with three homers and 13 RBIs against lefties.

AP-ES-05-02-06 1451EDT

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