CLEVELAND (AP) – Travis Hafner drove in four runs to help C.C. Sabathia win his fourth straight start, and the Cleveland Indians completed a three-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles with a 5-1 victory Sunday.

The Indians, who began play 1 games behind Oakland in the AL wild-card race, won their fourth straight and fifth in six games to move a season-high 12 games over .500.

The skidding Orioles fell to 13-23 since the All-Star break and lost for the 26th time in 36 road games – despite opening a six-game trip with a three-game sweep in Oakland.

Sabathia (10-9) improved to 4-0 in August after losing his last five starts in July. The left-hander gave up one run and three hits in eight innings, punctuating his performance by getting Eric Byrnes to hit into an inning-ending double play.

Cleveland broke a 1-all tie in the sixth and extended the lead when Hafner’s two-run double capped a three-run seventh.

Jhonny Peralta opened the sixth with a soft liner to left-center off the glove of left fielder Byrnes, who was brushed by center fielder Luis Matos as he tried for the catch. Matos was charged with an error – one of six by Baltimore in the last two games – for causing the bobble.

Hafner lined a single to left and Peralta slid home ahead of the throw from Byrnes for a 2-1 lead.

Coco Crisp made it 3-1 in the seventh with a sacrifice fly off reliever Tim Byrdak. After Peralta walked, Hafner lined a shot inches fair down the right-field line for a 5-1 lead. Two wild pitches by Byrdak, one that allowed Grady Sizemore to reach base on a strikeout, fueled the rally.

Hafner put Cleveland ahead 1-0 with an RBI double in the first off Bruce Chen (10-7).

Baltimore tied it in the fifth. Alejandro Freire was hit in the left foot by a pitch, bunted to second by Matos, took third on a single to left by Chris Gomez, and scored on a groundout by Brian Roberts.

Sabathia worked his way out of an odd third inning in which Baltimore put three runners on without hitting the ball hard. It was a sequence that might have unnerved the 25-year-old lefty and led to a big inning when he struggled in July.

Matos reached when his grounder went off shortstop Peralta’s glove for an error. One out later, Matos took off for second, but Sabathia stepped off the mound and ran directly at the runner to start a textbook rundown sequence that emptied the bases.

Roberts walked, stole second, and went to third when Byrnes beat out a grounder to Peralta for the Orioles’ first hit. Sabathia, however, got Melvin Mora to line to left to end the threat.

Notes: Hafner hit .353 (12-for-34) with 10 RBIs, six doubles and one homer during a nine-game homestand. … Indians 2B Ronnie Belliard returned after missing two games with a sore neck, the result of a collision with umpire Eric Cooper on Thursday. … Orioles 1B-DH Rafael Palmeiro sat out his fifth straight game with a sprained right ankle. … Crisp, who stranded eight runners Saturday night, struck out with the bases loaded to end the second and hit into a double play to end the fifth. … Byrnes has hit .081 (3-for-37) over his last 10 games.

AP-ES-08-21-05 1549EDT


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