Indians post win on two homers

By Tom Withers Associated Press Published:

CLEVELAND _ Two swings and a mist.

Juan Gonzalez and Jim Thome homered on consecutive pitches and the Cleveland Indians rallied through the fog Friday night for a 4-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles.

A dense, fast-moving fog swirled in off Lake Erie in the fifth inning and stopped play for eight minutes in the sixth before the Indians stormed back from a 3-0 deficit.

Cleveland scored the go-ahead run in the seventh without getting a hit as Gonzalez walked with the bases loaded.

"It was really weird," Thome said of the fog that shrouded Jacobs Field for two innings. "I can't remember seeing it even that bad in the old stadium on the lake. That was as weird as it's ever been here. It's like somebody blew it in here and it just sat on us."

Ricardo Rincon (1-0) relieved starter Dave Burba and got the win, striking out the only batter he faced. Paul Shuey worked the eighth and Bob Wickman closed for his first save.

The Indians used four walks and a sacrifice to take a 4-3 lead in the seventh.

Baltimore starter Jose Mercedes (0-1) walked Wil Cordero and Einar Diaz sacrificed pinch-runner Jolbert Cabrera over. B.J. Ryan came on and walked pinch-hitter Marty Cordova, and one out later, Roberto Alomar walked to load the bases.

Calvin Maduro didn't want to make a mistake with Gonzalez and wasn't close with any of his four pitches, forcing in Cabrera.

"I'll take a walk anytime," Gonzalez said. "That's a tough situation for a hitter and a pitcher, too."

At one point, the fog was so thick and blowing in so fast that Orioles center fielder Melvin Mora was barely visible from the press box. Baltimore manager Mike Hargrove came out to complain and the umpires delayed the game for eight minutes in the sixth.

Unfortunately for Hargrove, he had a clear view of the shots hit by Gonzalez and Thome off Mercedes in the bottom of the inning.

"Jose pitched well except for the two pitches," Hargrove said. "That was about the ballgame."

First, Gonzalez drove a 1-0 pitch over the wall in right-center for his third homer this season. Gonzalez now has 15 homers and 39 RBIs in 33 career games at Jacobs Field.

Thome didn't let the fans sit down, hitting the next pitch over the wall in straightaway center for his first hit in 10 at-bats this season.

"You're not going to get away with bad pitches to two hitters like that," Hargrove said.

Mercedes shut out the Indians for seven innings in his only appearance against them last year and blanked them for four innings before Cordero's RBI double in the fifth brought Cleveland within 3-1.

Mercedes gave up three runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings.

Held to a combined four runs and 12 hits in their first three games, the Orioles, who entered batting .136 as a team, had an offensive explosion _ four runs and three hits _ in the third off Burba.

Brady Anderson and Mike Bordick hit RBI singles off Burba and David Segui, who played 57 games for Cleveland last season but turned down a contract offer to re-sign with the Indians, had a sacrifice fly.

Notes: Indians 3B Travis Fryman isn't ready to come off the DL. Fryman, who has a torn elbow ligament, took himself out of a Triple-A game in Buffalo on Friday and returned to Cleveland for evaluation. "He's not quite ready to go," Manuel said. "He's going to need another two or three days." Fryman told Manuel he felt a slight strain in his elbow two nights ago. He'll take grounders and batting practice on Saturday. ... Cleveland's bullpen hasn't allowed a run in seven innings this season. ... With CF Kenny Lofton resting a strained calf, Jacob Cruz started for the Indians. It was his first regular-season game in center since he suffered a major knee injury while trying to catch a ball near the wall in an April 29 game last year. ... The Orioles are just 10-30 at Jacobs Field, including a 2-3 mark in the '96 and '97 playoffs. ... Hargrove will continue to carry 11 pitchers until RHP Alan Mills is ready to come off the DL. Mills, who had shoulder surgery in September and is at the team's training facility in Sarasota, Fla., is only throwing 83-85 mph. "I don't think rushing Alan will do him or us any good," Hargrove said.

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