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Manny Ramirez went 4-for-4 with a homer and

By Tom WithersAssociated Press Published: May 27, 1999 12:00 AM

Manny Ramirez went 4-for-4 with a homer and Dave Burba pitched seven strong innings Wednesday night, leading Cleveland to a 6-2 win over the Chicago White Sox.

Last week in Chicago, the Indians, currently on pace to break the 1931 New York Yankees' record for runs in a season, scored 39 runs _ 13 in each game _ and batted .403 with six homers to bludgeon the White Sox during a three-game sweep.

Cleveland wasn't as proficient in taking two of three at Jacobs Field from Chicago, but in Wednesday's game, the Indians scored one run on a double steal and two more on sacrifice flies.

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"I don't want to say we struggled to score runs," Indians manager Mike Hargrove said. "But tonight, the offense wasn't like it has been. And that shows our versatility. We don't have to beat a team over the head with our bats."

Ramirez, who leads the majors with 59 RBI, hit three singles and his 13th homer for the Indians, who finally figured out Mike Sirotka (2-6) and improved to 5-1 against the White Sox this season.

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Burba (5-1) gave up two runs and six hits in seven innings, and escaped two jams with inning-ending double plays. After allowing 19 runs, 27 hits and 14 walks in 25 innings over his last four starts, Burba decided it was time for some drastic adjustments.

"I made a lot of changes in my mechanics and it paid off," he said. "I was tired of getting behind hitters. I wasn't going good for about the last four games and I needed to do something."

Working with pitching coach Phil Regan, Burba changed the height of his leg kick and hands during his windup. Also, before coming to the ballpark, Burba has been getting in some light throwing at home _ having a catcher in his brother-in-law who is in from out of town.

Now that his brother-in-law is leaving, Burba was asked if his wife would take over the catching duties.

"No," he said. "My daughter, Madison. She hits like Manny Ramirez. I try to pitch her tight and she hits shots right back at me. Every day she says, 'Come on Daddy, let's play hit and bat."'

The Indians, who have been playing hit and bat with the AL all season, are now starting to pitch, too. Burba's outing followed a solid start by Charles Nagy on Tuesday, and once again Cleveland's bullpen shut it down late.

"That's kind of the way you draw it up," Hargrove said.

Chicago manager Jerry Manuel admits its tough for his team to compete with the Indians.

"When we play these guys everything has to go right," he said. "They have too many weapons. Ramirez hit everything we threw. We have to play almost perfect against them."

Ramirez, who entered the game among the league leaders in six offensive categories, padded his stats with his first four-hit game this season. Continuing an RBI tear from last season, Ramirez has 165 RBI in his last 139 games.

"If he continues this pace," said Hargrove. "People will have to look at him as one of the major forces in baseball today."

Paul Shuey pitched the final two innings for his third save.

Rookie Mark Johnson hit his first career homer for Chicago.

Sirotka had beaten the Indians with a four-hitter in his last start against them _ July 19 _ and entered the game 4-0 in five appearances vs. Cleveland.

The left-hander, who allowed nine hits in five-plus innings, made a fielding error on Einar Diaz's tapper in front that allowed the Indians to score three runs in the fifth and overcome a 2-1 deficit.

"It wasn't just any one play or any one pitch tonight," he said. "We pretty much got outpitched and outplayed. Not by much, but that was the difference."

Notes: Cleveland is averaging 7.1 runs per game. ... Ramirez entered the night with eight more RBI than any other major leaguer. He has nine career four-hit games. ... Johnson was in a 1-for-17 slump before his homer. ... The Indians have 18 come-from-behind wins. ... Actor Tim Robbins visited the Indians before the game and his son, Miles, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. ... Hargrove said pitcher Steve Reed would likely remain in the hospital for two more days with an infected left elbow. Hargrove didn't rule out the possibility Reed could go on the disabled list.

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