Tribe blanks Twins


CLEVELAND – Jason Johnson pitched shutout ball for seven innings in his Cleveland debut and Travis Hafner homered again to lead the Indians to a 3-0 win over the Minnesota Twins.

Hafner went 3-for-3 to extend his streak of reaching base safely to 10 straight over three games and helped the Indians stretch their winning streak to four after an opening-night loss in Chicago.

After going 4-for-4 with two homers Friday in Cleveland’s 11-6 win over the Twins, Hafner homered, walked, hit an RBI double and singled. He started the streak with a walk in his last at-bat Wednesday in Chicago.

Minnesota fell to 1-4 for the first time since 1994 when it opened 1-7.

Johnson (1-0), signed as a free agent in December just hours before Kevin Millwood left Cleveland to sign with Texas, gave up only four hits. The right-hander walked one, struck out two and was helped by two double plays.

Johnson said one of the reasons he left the Tigers to sign a one-year contract with a mutual option year with Cleveland was his desire to play for a winner. He came in with 52-86 career record over nine seasons with Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Detroit – never pitching on a club that finished above .500.

Guillermo Mota pitched the eighth inning for Cleveland. He gave up two one-out singles before coming back to strike out Nick Punto and Joe Mauer.

Bob Wickman worked the ninth for his second save.

Hafner hit his fourth homer of the season leading off the second inning against Minnesota right-hander Scott Baker (0-1).

Casey Blake’s two-out RBI single in the fourth made it 2-0. Blake, who hit a grand slam Friday, went 3-for-4.

Jhonny Peralta led off the fifth with a double and Hafner followed with a run-scoring double off the wall in left-center for a 3-0 lead.

Notes: Both managers kept players out because of the cold. The game-time temperature was 37 degrees and a brisk wind made it colder as the game wore on. Twins OF Lew Ford (hamstring) and 2B Luis Castillo (sore leg) didn’t play. Indians 2B Ronnie Belliard rested a tight calf. … Johnson improved to 7-8 in his career against the Twins. … Minnesota has scored three or fewer runs in three of five games. … RHP Francisco Liriano struck out four in 2 2-3 scoreless innings for Minnesota.

AP-ES-04-08-06 1939EDT