Even though he made two of them Wednesday

By Ken Berger Associated Press Published:

Even though he made two of them Wednesday night, Vizquel saw something worth smiling about. For one night, the Cleveland Indians woke up.

Kenny Lofton had two of Cleveland's 13 hits and Bartolo Colon showed signs of life as the Indians beat the Texas Rangers 6-3.

It was an encouraging night for a lineup that was plagued by inconsistency even before cleanup hitter Jim Thome went on the disabled list with a broken hand.

"It was a tough night for me, but I'm glad the team finally played good baseball," said Vizquel, who had made only three errors in 147 games. "We finally woke up with the bats."

Lofton, batting .264 since the All-Star break, stopped a 2-for-16 slump with two hits that sparked rallies. The AL Central-leading Indians improved to 16-17 since the All-Star break and 28-28 since June 9.

"You go into a downfall during a season," Lofton said. "Guys know in baseball it's going to turn around sooner or later. When you have a good team like ours, it's not going to stay like that the whole year."

The Rangers' lead in the AL West was trimmed to one-half game with Anaheim's 3-2 victory over Detroit. They dropped to 4-10 on the road since July 12, but could have Juan Gonzalez back in the lineup tonight. Gonzalez, the major league RBI leader with 119, has missed three straight games and nine of 14 with a stiff neck.

"Our team orthopedic surgeon says Juan's problem is muscular and that he could be ready to DH (tonight)," Texas manager Johnny Oates said. "He could be ready to play in the New York series."

Colon (12-6) allowed three runs _ two earned _ and seven hits in six innings with two walks and six strikeouts. He won for the third time in seven starts since the All-Star break, but was obviously working with less than his best stuff. With runners on second and third and one out in the fourth, he used his changeup to strike out Mark McLemore and Rusty Greer.

"He says he thinks he's throwing the same stuff he was earlier in the year," said bullpen coach Luis Isaac, interpreting Colon's Spanish.

The Indians are giving Colon and Jaret Wright six or seven days rest between starts because they believe their arms are tired. The condition, known as a "dead arm," caused Colon's velocity to dip lower than his usual 97-98 mph in his last start.

Hargrove didn't have the radar readings from Wednesday night. The readings for the local TV telecast had Colon in the 93-94 mph range.

"If this is a dead arm period for him, he's still pretty good," said Hargrove, who watched Colon on TV after he was ejected in the second inning.

Steve Reed pitched 1 2-3 innings of scoreless relief, Paul Assenmacher got one out in the eighth and Mike Jackson pitched the ninth for his 28th save.

Rangers starter John Burkett (7-12) allowed five runs and 11 hits in five-plus innings, walking two and striking out one.

Travis Fryman, returning to the lineup after missing seven of 11 games with back spasms, had an RBI single in Cleveland's two-run first and an RBI double in the third that tied it at 3.

Vizquel booted a double-play grounder in the second and threw in the dirt to first in the sixth for his second error and fifth of the year. He still has the highest fielding percentage ever among shortstops with at least 1,000 games and had a 70-game errorless streak snapped earlier this season.

"Is that big news or something?" Vizquel said when asked about his errors.

The Rangers' first four batters reached in the second, including Todd Zeile on Vizquel's first error. After Ivan Rodriguez's RBI single, Zeile hit a high bouncer to Vizquel, who took his eyes off it as he tried to start a double play. The ball bounced past him for an error, and Zeile got an RBI as Will Clark scored.

After Royce Clayton singled, Colon walked Mark McLemore with the bases loaded to make it 3-2 Texas.

Hargrove came out of the dugout to argue the call and was ejected by plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth. Hargrove lingered in the dugout for a moment to get a drink of water before walking to the tunnel with one last barrage for Culbreth, whose call proved proper on the replay.

Notes: It was Vizquel's eighth career multi-error game and first since Sept. 9, 1996 against the Angels. ... Dave Burba, coming back from a sore elbow, will start Saturday for Cleveland against the Orioles. Jaret Wright will start Sunday on seven days rest. ... Indians catcher Sandy Alomar is batting .181 since July 1 (17-for-94). ... Cleveland DH David Justice snapped an 0-for-11 with a single in the first.

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