CLEVELAND (AP) – Scott Elarton contained New York’s power-packed lineup for six innings and led the Cleveland Indians to a 6-5 win Tuesday night over the Yankees, who couldn’t stage their third straight comeback.

Elarton (7-5) allowed three runs and four hits as the Indians won the opener of their three-game series against the Yankees, one of a handful of teams they’re battling for the AL wild card.

Bob Wickman, Cleveland’s fourth reliever, retired Derek Jeter on a grounder with a runner at second for his 28th save in 32 attempts.

Ronnie Belliard hit a three-run double off an erratic Al Leiter (1-3), and Victor Martinez homered for Cleveland, which came in 4 games behind wild-card leader Oakland. The Indians are 34-1 when they score at least six runs.

Alex Rodriguez hit his AL-leading 29th homer, a two-run shot in the sixth, and Tino Martinez had a solo drive in the third for New York.

The Yankees were coming off two straight victories in which they rallied from four runs down in the eighth inning, becoming the first team to do so since the 1975 Cincinnati Reds. They couldn’t pull off another one, however, and fell 31/2 games behind first-place Boston in the AL East.

With New York down 6-1 in the sixth, Gary Sheffield ripped a shot to left that missed being a homer by inches, thudding off the top of the 19-foot-high wall. Coco Crisp quickly got the ball into the infield, holding Sheffield to a long single.

But Crisp couldn’t do anything but watch as Rodriguez followed with his homer onto the home run porch in left, bringing New York to 6-3.

The Yankees got an unearned run in the seventh, set up by reliever Arthur Rhodes’ first error since June 1, 1998. After Jorge Posada singled, Tino Martinez hit a comebacker that Rhodes gloved but threw away at second for his first error in 417 games.

Rhodes, though, squirmed out of the mess by allowing only Jeter’s RBI fielder’s choice.

New York closed to 6-5 in the eighth when Sheffield scored from third on Scott Sauerbeck’s wild pitch.

Leiter completely lost his control in the third. He walked the bases full on 16 pitches before Belliard unloaded them with a double down the left-field line. Third-base coach Joel Skinner tried to hold up Jose Hernandez, but he ran through Skinner’s stop sign as the Indians went up 5-1.

Leiter walked five in his shortest outing since June 8, 2003, with the Mets.

The Indians made it 6-1 in the fifth on Victor Martinez’s 14th homer. In 19 games since the All-Star break, he is batting a league-best .413 with five homers and 18 RBIs.

Grady Sizemore’s RBI single gave the Indians a 2-0 lead in the second. Victor Martinez drove in Cleveland’s first run with a single in the first.

Notes: Wickman has converted 20 straight saves at home. … Belliard is batting .364 (20-for-55) with 52 RBIs in his career with the bases loaded. … The Yankees declined their 2006 option on CF Bernie Williams, a five-time All-Star and vital part of four World Series champions in New York. “They did what they felt they had to do,” said Williams, who would have made $15 million next season. … Despite the loss, the Yankees are 33-19 at Jacobs Field. … Indians DH Travis Hafner went 0-for-4 and was hit by a pitch during a rehab appearance at Double-A Akron. Hafner, who hasn’t played in the majors since getting hit in the face with a pitch on July 16, could be activated on Wednesday. … Elarton is the first Cleveland pitcher to beat the Yankees twice in a season since Charles Nagy in 2001.

AP-ES-08-02-05 2222EDT


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