CLEVELAND (AP) – The Cleveland Indians failed to take advantage of another loss by the stumbling Chicago White Sox.

Scott Kazmir held Cleveland to one run in six innings and Julio Lugo hit a three-run homer to lead Tampa Bay to a 5-4 victory Tuesday night, preventing the Indians from gaining ground on Chicago in the AL Central.

Former Indians pitcher Danys Baez got Ronnie Belliard to hit into a game-ending double play with the tying run on third, handing Cleveland consecutive losses for the first time since Sept. 3-4 at Minnesota.

The loss kept the Indians two games behind the first-place White Sox, who lost their second straight to Detroit. Cleveland also began the day tied with Boston and New York for the wild-card lead.

The announcement of Chicago’s 3-2 loss drew one of the biggest cheers on a night where there was otherwise little to celebrate. The Indians were 15 games behind the White Sox on Aug. 1.

The Indians have struggled against Tampa Bay this season, getting swept in a three-game series at Jacobs Field in mid-August. They have two games remaining against the Devil Rays before a three-game home series against Chicago to finish the season.

Cleveland staged a comeback on RBI doubles by pinch-hitter Ben Broussard and Casey Blake in the eighth inning off Joe Borowski. But Borowski struck out Grady Sizemore to end the threat.

Baez allowed Victor Martinez’s RBI single to center in the ninth before earning his 40th save in 48 chances.

Kazmir (10-9) walked five but worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the second and left another two stranded in the third.

He allowed one run and four hits to improve to 4-1 in September. He gave up eight runs in 2 1-3 innings in his last appearance against Cleveland on Aug. 25.

Scott Elarton (11-8) fell to 0-3 against the Devil Rays this season after allowing five runs and 10 hits in five innings. He had been Cleveland’s top pitcher this month, going 4-0 in his last four starts with three earned runs.

Lugo’s homer in the fourth inning made it 4-0, and Alex Gonzalez hit his ninth home run in the sixth.

Aaron Boone’s two-out RBI single in the sixth made it 5-1.

Kazmir, who leads the league in walks, walked the bases loaded with two outs in the second. But Joey Gathright made a leaping catch on Casey Blake’s liner to the warning track to end the inning.

Tampa Bay led off the game with three straight hits to take a 1-0 lead on Jorge Cantu’s single. But Elarton got two groundouts and a popout to get out of the jam.

Notes: The Indians are 3-5 against Tampa Bay this season. … Kazmir’s six strikeouts helped him surpass Tony Saunders’ club record of 172 set in 1998. … Cleveland stranded 12 runners in scoring position. … Kazmir and Elarton entered Tuesday night having allowed the fewest earned runs in the AL in September.

AP-ES-09-27-05 2219EDT


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