Omar Vizquel tripled twice and Roberto Alomar drove in four runs as the Indians routed the Texas Rangers 13-2 Sunday night to avoid a three-game sweep.
Cleveland broke a first-place tie with Minnesota, which lost its third straight to Tampa Bay earlier in the day. The Indians failed to capitalize on Twins losses in each of the previous two games with the Rangers.
"Finally," Vizquel said. "We've had the advantage the last two days because we already knew their score. It should pump us up, but it looked like we backed off. We should come out with fire in our eyes like we did tonight."
C.C. Sabathia (12-4) gave up two runs and three hits over six innings to win for the fifth time in six decisions. He struck out seven and walked four as the Indians ended a three-game losing streak. John Rocker, who blew a save Saturday, pitched the ninth, issuing two walks.
Sabathia's 12 victories are the most by an Indians rookie left-hander since Herb Score won 16 times in 1955. Sabathia is 10-1 on the road this season.
Sabathia gave the Indians some momentum heading into Tuesday night's opener of a three-game series against the Twins at Jacobs Field.
"Every time we get a lead on them, they come back," he said. "This time we've got to build on our lead."
Sabathia said he paced himself early in the 101-degree heat, walking two in the second and allowing runs in the third and fourth. But he was perfect in the fifth and sixth, striking out four in those two innings.
"It was ridiculous," Sabathia said. "It felt like a sauna. There was no breeze. So the first couple of innings I tried to conserve my energy. Later on, when the sun went down, I was able to be more aggressive."
Alomar tripled, doubled and singled, and Juan Gonzalez drove in three runs to give him 104 for the season as the Indians halted the Rangers' three-game winning streak.
"We started the (six-game) road trip a game behind, and now we're a game ahead," Indians manager Charlie Manuel said. "It was a nice win for us. It was nice to score some runs."
Vizquel's two triples were one short of the Cleveland club record.
Cleveland took a 2-0 lead in the first with the help of a Texas error.
Kenny Lofton led off with a double, went to third on Vizquel's sacrifice bunt, and scored on Alomar's single. Gonzalez followed with a potential inning-ending, double-play grounder to shortstop Alex Rodriguez, but second baseman Michael Young dropped Rodriguez's throw for an error.
Jim Thome followed with a single to load the bases and Ellis Burks' sacrifice fly gave Cleveland a 2-0 lead.
Manuel again used the bunt successfully in the second inning for a 3-0 lead.
Travis Fryman hit a leadoff double, took third on Einar Diaz's bunt, and Fryman scored on Lofton's sacrifice fly.
Rodriguez's RBI double in the third and Young's sacrifice fly in the fourth reduced the deficit to 3-2.
Rangers starter Rob Bell (4-2) recovered from a shaky first two innings to pitch four scoreless innings.
But Bell failed to retire the four batters he faced in the seventh as the Indians increased their lead to 8-2. Bell hit Diaz with a pitch, gave up a single to Lofton, walked Vizquel, then gave up a two-run double to Alomar.
Bell allowed seven runs and seven hits in six-plus innings.
"It hurts emotionally, it hurts physically," said Bell, who won his first four decisions for the Rangers. "I just couldn't be more frustrated with the way I pitched the last few starts."
Gonzalez greeted reliever Mark Petkovsek with a two-run single, and Fryman added a sacrifice fly against Kevin Foster later in the seventh to make it 8-2.
Consecutive RBI triples in the eighth by Vizquel and Alomar, and Gonzalez's run-scoring single made it 11-2.
Cleveland added two more runs in the ninth on Diaz's RBI triple and Lofton's RBI groundout.
Notes: Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez got the night off. ... The Indians went 5-4 against the Rangers in the season series that concluded Sunday. ... The Indians have been tied or alone in first place for 35 of 132 days this season. Cleveland's largest lead has been 1 1/2 games. ... With a double-steal by Gabe Kapler and Craig Monroe in the second inning, the Rangers have 69 stolen bases to match their total of last season.