Damon's triple helps Indians beat Rangers 6-3
CLEVELAND (AP) Johnny Damon was signed to give the Cleveland Indians a bit of a jolt.
Turns out, the Indians' young players have provided the 38-year-old outfielder with a lift, too.
Damon hit a two-run triple in his first home game for Cleveland and Jeanmar Gomez pitched seven strong innings to lead the Indians over the Texas Rangers 6-3 on Friday night.
"I love my role, which is to still contribute and play, but help my team develop, too," Damon said. "It's great to be with a team that's hungry to win, hungry to get to a World Series, ready to go all-out every game. In just a couple days, these young guys have helped give me new life, too."
Gomez (2-1), one of those youngsters at 24 years old, gave up seven hits and three runs as Cleveland won for the fourth time in five games. Texas has lost five of seven, but the two-time AL champions still lead the West Division.
"Gomez was terrific against such a great lineup," Indians manager Manny Acta said.
Damon's drive in the seventh off the wall in center was nearly caught by Josh Hamilton, who returned to the Rangers' lineup after missing three games with a sore back.
Chris Perez pitched the ninth for his 10th consecutive save. He is perfect since blowing the save in the season opener April 5.
"Right now, he's in a zone," Acta said. "He's going right after guys."
The game ended with Choo making a leaping catch at the right-field wall to snare a drive off the bat of pinch-hitter Adrian Beltre with a runner on first.
Damon went 1 for 4, though Hamilton nearly made a sensational catch of his drive just as he crashed into the wall. Casey Kotchman and Hannahan scored as Damon got to third base and clapped his hands after putting Cleveland ahead 6-3.
"I was good to give us some insurance," Damon said. "No lead is too big for that team. Fortunately, (Hamilton) didn't make that play. I've seen him make that catch."
Acta was impressed with Damon's hustle around the bases for the standup triple.
"I think this guy was doing that before most of our guys signed a professional contract," Acta said of Damon, who was a rookie in 1995. "He's in tremendous shape."
Texas manager Ron Washington second-guessed himself for letting Lewis face Damon with left-hander Robbie Ross warming up in the bullpen.
"Colby had gotten him out all day," Washington said. "I was one batter late. I'll take the blame for that."
Damon admitted he wasn't comfortable early against the right-hander.
"The first three times up, I had lazy swings," Damon said after driving on 0-1 curveball 400 feet to center.
"I don't think I had thrown one (curve) to him all day," Lewis said. "I had made him swing at a lot of bad pitches, good pitches for me in the first three at-bats. He made it happen when he needed to make it happen."
Choo's two-run homer made it 2-0 in the second. The 414-foot drive to center snapped an 0-for-14 slump and was his first homer since Aug. 23.
Texas, which had won 11 of its previous 12 games at Progressive Field, scored in the third on a sacrifice fly by Ian Kinsler.
Hannahan made it 3-1 in the bottom half with his second homer, which originally appeared to be a standup triple. His drive down the right-field line caromed off the wall and by the time right fielder Nelson Cruz tracked it down, Hannahan was standing on third.
Acta argued and plate umpire Dale Scott and his crew went to look at TV replays, which showed the ball hit above the yellow line atop the wall. Scott signaled homer, the crowd roared, and Hannahan trotted home.
David Murphy's RBI double in the fourth got Texas within 3-2.
The Rangers tied it in the sixth. Michael Young blooped a double to right, moved up on Murphy's long fly ball to center and scored on Cruz's single to left, which broke his 0-for-14 slide.
Lewis allowed six runs and 10 hits over 6 2-3 innings, snapping his personal six-game winning streak since Sept. 9. That was the longest active streak in the AL.
Notes: Texas has lost three straight for the first time since Aug. 23-25. ... Rangers SS Elvis Andrus went 1 for 4. He has hit safely in all 24 of his career games against Cleveland. ... Washington pushed RHP Neftali Perez's next start to Tuesday at Baltimore, saying he wants to keep the other starters, Lewis, Derek Holland, Yu Darvish and Matt Harrison on their regular turn. ... Perez said a season-ending knee injury to Yankees closer Mariano Rivera won't keep him from shagging fly balls during batting practice. "It's a shame that's how he got hurt, but it won't stop me," Perez said. "I love it. It makes me feel like a (regular) player." ... Cleveland traded OF Ryan Spilborghs to the Rangers, who assigned him to Triple-A Round Rock.
Updated May 4, 2012
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