Williams, never booed at Jacobs Field but never

By Ken Berger Associated Press Published:

Williams, never booed at Jacobs Field but never really embraced, either, took quite a swing at those who doubted his ability. While Belle stands as the measuring stick for all future Indians power hitters, all he could do on this day was stand and watch.

"I didn't beat Albert Belle today," insisted Williams, who extended his career-high hitting streak to 22 games with his 30th and 31st homers. "We all beat the White Sox."

The symbolism of Williams' homers, especially their flight and final resting place, was hard to miss, though.

Williams hit a two-run shot in Cleveland's four-run fourth to give the Indians a 6-5 lead. His solo homer in the seventh traveled 407 feet onto the standing-room-only patio in left field, there to scuff on the same cement as many of Belle's 242 career homers.

"I'm not here to replace Albert Belle," Williams said. "I think that's a little unfair to me. How do you replace 50 homers and 150 RBIs? You can't do it."

Belle, playing his second series at Jacobs Field since signing a $55 million, five-year contract with rival Chicago, was 0-for-5 with two strikeouts. As the tying run in the ninth, he flied out to the right-field wall against Jose Mesa. Belle, 0-for-8 in the series, blew a kiss to the roaring crowd as he trotted back to the dugout.

Maybe now that Williams is hot and the Indians are playing up to expectations, the third baseman will get credit for having a solid offensive season. Here are Williams' respectable numbers: .261, 31 homers, 95 RBIs.

"I read in the paper the other day that I was a disappointment," Williams said. "Really, I read that. I'm just going to continue to do my best. That's all I can do."

Marquis Grissom, another of Cleveland's new additions who supposedly wasn't living up to expectations, also hit a two-run homer in the fifth, his 11th and 100th of his career. Grissom, acquired with David Justice from Atlanta in the blockbuster Kenny Lofton trade, was 3-for-4 and scored three runs.

Williams is batting .363 during his hitting streak with six homers and 26 RBIs. Grissom is batting .467 in the last 13 games with four homers and 11 RBIs to raise his average from .245 to .266.

"It's been a long, tough year," Grissom said. "I've just tried to keep myself together and help the team."

The AL Central-leading Indians have won seven of nine and lead the third-place White Sox by seven games. Second-place Milwaukee, which played Boston Saturday, entered the day 3 1/2 behind the Indians.

The White Sox, expected to battle Cleveland to the wire for the division title, are fading fast _ just as chairman Jerry Reinsdorf predicted last month when Wilson Alvarez, Danny Darwin and Roberto Hernandez were traded to San Francisco.

"(Sunday) is the biggest game of the year for us," Chicago manager Terry Bevington said. "We're confident. We think every day is going to be our day."

Bartolo Colon (3-6) got the victory despite allowing five runs and six hits in five shaky innings. He retired Belle all three times he faced him, though. Colon struck him out in the first, robbed him on a sharp grounder back to the mound in the third and started a 1-4-3 double play with another comeback grounder in the fifth.

Four Cleveland relievers allowed two runs in 2 2-3 innings, and Mesa got four outs for his 11th save.

Chicago starter James Baldwin (11-14) gave up eight runs and 11 hits in 4 1-3 innings.

Frank Thomas hit his 31st homer, a two-run shot in the third, and added an RBI double in the seventh as Chicago closed to 8-6.

Chicago took a 3-0 lead in the third on Dave Martinez's RBI groundout and Thomas' homer.

The Indians tied it in the bottom of the inning on an RBI groundout by Bip Roberts and run-scoring singles by Brian Giles and Justice.

Martinez, hitting .429 against Cleveland this year, made it 5-3 with a two-run single in the fourth. Grissom led off Cleveland's fourth with a single and scored on a single by Giles to cut it to 5-4.

Magglio Ordonez hit a solo homer off Mike Jackson in the eighth to make

it 9-7.

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