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If he's hurting, think how Indians pitchers must

By Tom WithersAssociated Press Published: July 7, 2000 12:00 AM

If he's hurting, think how Indians pitchers must feel.

They've been battered by Delgado all year.

Delgado had four RBI and Shannon Stewart went 4-for-5 with two RBI Thursday night as the Toronto Blue Jays, nearing the end of a grueling, 13-day road trip, avoided a sweep and stayed atop the AL East with a 9-6 victory over the Cleveland Indians.

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Delgado, who will make his first All-Star appearance next week, singled in two runs in the third and added a two-run double in the sixth for Toronto.

In seven games against Cleveland this season, Delgado is batting .458 with three homers and 12 RBI.

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"Delgado has done everything for us all year," said Toronto manager Jim Fregosi. "He's got nearly 80 RBI. I know there are a lot of guys who would settle for that in a whole year."

The Blue Jays, who have been in first place since June 23, maintained their half-game lead over the New York Yankees.

"It's early still, but that gives us some confidence going into the break," said starter Chris Carpenter (7-7). "It's a nice feeling."

Stewart had four singles, scored twice and delivered a key sacrifice fly in the seventh that put the Blue Jays up 7-5. Jose Cruz Jr. homered in the ninth to make it 9-6.

Cruz, who has 19 homers, needs one more before Monday to make the Blue Jays the first team in history to have four players with at least 20 homers at the All-Star break.

Alex Ramirez hit a two-run homer and Richie Sexson had a pinch-homer for the Indians, who were 0-5-1 in six series before taking the first two games against Toronto.

"We just couldn't stop them," Indians manager Charlie Manuel said. "Of course they are a real good hitting team."

Carpenter, who pitched just 10 innings combined in his previous three starts, managed to stay around for 5 2/3 this time. He allowed five runs and 11 hits.

"I've been struggling lately," Carpenter said. "Right now, it seems like every time I make a mistake, they hammer it. But the bottom line is, we won."

Billy Koch put two runners on in the eighth and pitched a perfect ninth for his 19th save in 22 tries. It was the fifth time this season Koch has pitched two innings for a save.

"I don't like to do that," said Fregosi, who swore during spring training that he would only use Koch for an inning. "But I thought it was important for us to win this game and I thought he gave us the best shot to do that."

Dave Burba (8-4) gave up six runs and 10 hits in a shaky 5 2/3 innings.

"I struggled to get ahead in the count," Burba said. "Things just didn't go my way."

Sexson's pinch-hit homer in the seventh off John Frascatore brought the Indians within 7-6. But the Blue Jays added a run in the eighth when Brad Fullmer singled home Raul Mondesi, who scored three runs.

The Blue Jays, who didn't put the Indians away early and ended up losing Wednesday after leading 5-0, went up 3-0 in the third on Mondesi's RBI double and Delgado's two-run single.

But the Indians came right back, getting consecutive RBI doubles by Ricky Ledee and Thome in the bottom of the inning to make it 3-2.

"It's tough to score runs and then give them right back," said Fregosi. "But we've played hard all year and continue to play hard."

Notes: Indians RF Manny Ramirez began a rehab stint at Triple-A Buffalo and went 2-for-5 with a double, homer and three RBIs as the designated hitter during a doubleheader for the Bisons. Ramirez, out since May 28 with a strained left hamstring, could be back right after the All-Star break. ... Toronto SS Alex Gonzalez left in the fourth with tightness in his right groin. It was just his second game since June 24 after missing nine games. Fregosi said Gonzalez may not be back until after the break.

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