TORONTO – Grady Sizemore stole home, Travis Hafner homered twice and C.C. Sabathia won his fifth straight start, helping Cleveland beat the Toronto Blue Jays 9-3 Friday night for the Indians’ eighth win in nine games.

Sizemore got off to a huge lead from third in the first inning and broke for home before Dustin McGowan (1-2) started his windup. Catcher Guillermo Quiroz didn’t attempt a tag as Sizemore easily slid in safely for Cleveland’s first straight steal of home since Omar Vizquel at Detroit on May 27, 2003.

Hafner hit a solo shot off McGowan in the first and a two-run homer off Justin Speier in the ninth, his second two-homer game this season and the seventh multihomer game of his career.

Victor Martinez and Ronnie Belliard also homered for the Indians, who are less than a percentage point back in the AL wild race. The Indians are a major league-best 18-6 since July 31.

Martinez had four hits, including a solo homer off McGowan in the third, and scored four runs.

Sabathia (11-9) allowed three runs and six hits in six innings, striking out seven. He hasn’t lost since July 30.

Toronto has lost seven of eight. Before the game, the team announced ace Roy Halladay will not pitch again this season after breaking his leg July 8. The Blue Jays also are missing left-hander Ted Lilly.

McGowan, who replaced Lilly in the rotation, allowed four runs and eight hits in five-plus innings. In his previous start, the rookie gave up a career-worst 12 runs in 4 1-3 innings against Detroit.

Sizemore led off the game with a single, advanced on a grounder and wild pitch before stealing home. Hafner homered and Ben Broussard added an RBI single for a 3-0 lead.

Vernon Wells hit an RBI grounder in the bottom half, but Martinez’s homer made it 4-1 in the third.

Run-scoring singles by Frank Menechino in the fourth and Alex Rios in the fifth cut the lead to 4-3. Aaron Boone had an RBI infield single in the eighth, and Hafner and Belliard hit two-run homers off Speier in the ninth.

Notes: After Halladay was struck in the left shin by a line drive off the bat of Texas’ Kevin Mench, Toronto initially thought he would miss four to six weeks. … Hafner missed an easy popup in foul territory near first base in the sixth.

AP-ES-08-26-05 2210EDT


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