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Russell Branyan hit a three-run homer to highlight

By Tom WithersAssociated Press Published: July 6, 2000 12:00 AM

Russell Branyan hit a three-run homer to highlight Cleveland's six-run fifth inning Wednesday night as the Indians rolled to a 15-7 rout of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Branyan's third homer in two games put the Indians up 8-7, enabling them to rally from a 5-0 deficit and sending Cleveland to its first three-game winning streak since June 5-7.

The Indians have won two straight following manager Charlie Manuel's decision to redecorate Cleveland's clubhouse, which at times looked like a fraternity house living room with players lounging around or playing games.

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They've scored 24 runs on 25 hits in two games and have had six-run innings in each. There also seems to be a renewed enthusiasm on the team, something that was missing as the Indians fell 10 games back of Chicago in the AL Central.

"We stayed after them. When they were up 5-0, we didn't lay down," said Manuel. "We figured we can still win the game. In the dugout it was like we were up."

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Kenny Lofton, Roberto Alomar and Jim Thome had two RBI each for the Indians, who overcame a season-high 10 walks by scoring 15 runs on 15 hits in a four-inning span.

Cleveland scored four runs in the fourth, six in the fifth _ four off Paul Quantrill (0-4) _ and five more in the seventh for its highest run total since May 11.

"Can we get our couch back now?" Branyan joked. "We got three in a row. Maybe we can get six or seven and we'll get rid of this big-screen TV."

It was just the third time this season the Indians have rallied from more than four down to win.

"Everybody says Cleveland is struggling," said Toronto starter Roy Halladay. "Sometimes it takes getting a lot of hits like those to get you going. It did tonight."

Jamie Brewington (2-0) got out of a jam in the fifth and pitched 2 2/3 hitless innings. Before the right-hander entered the game, Indians starter Jim Brower and reliever Brian Williams had walked nine in just over three innings.

The Indians, who haven't been able to manufacture runs like they have in the past, scored four runs in the fourth against Halladay on a walk, a wild pitch, four singles, an RBI groundout and a sacrifice fly.

"We did some things right," Manuel said. "That's the way you play baseball."

But that's hardly the way Cleveland did it last year when it scored 1,009 runs. However, Branyan's 417-foot shot, a high drive to right in the fifth, reminded Indians fans of the way it used to be.

Trailing 7-4, Omar Vizquel walked to open the fifth, moved up on a fielder's choice and passed ball and scored on Halladay's wild pitch.

Thome's single chased Halladay, and Travis Fryman greeted Quantrill with a single. Branyan then made it 8-7 with his 11th homer in 76 at-bats this season.

"We can't punch the clock and say this is the way we're going to do it everyday," Branyan said. "We can't get that far behind."

Lofton, 7-for-13 since dropping from leadoff to No. 8 in the batting order, hit an RBI triple and Alex Ramirez had a run-scoring single to cap the six-run outburst.

"We went up 5-0 and they came back," Toronto manager Jim Fregosi said. "We just couldn't hold them. We didn't throw enough quality strikes."

Notes: The Blue Jays have given up 10 or more runs 18 times this season. They're 3-15 in those games. ... One reason for Toronto's 3-6 mark on its current road trip is a 7.20 ERA. ... Despite being selected as an All-Star, Indians LHP Chuck Finley declined to comment about the honor. ... Indians 3B Travis Fryman, who did talk to reporters after being selected as an All-Star reserve, had his career-best, 60-game errorless streak snapped when he booted Tony Batista's grounder in the fourth. ... Branyan is the fifth Indians rookie since 1981 to hit 10 homers or more.

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