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Colon has solid outing in 5-3 win

By Larry LageAssociated Press Published: April 7, 2002 12:00 AM

DETROIT _ Bartolo Colon is looking more like the promising pitcher from a few years back, and less like the one with a mediocre record from last season.

Ellis Burks drove in two runs, Brady Anderson homered and Colon was solid as the Cleveland Indians beat the Detroit Tigers 5-3 Saturday.

Colon made few mistakes in his second outing of the season after becoming Cleveland's first pitcher in 34 years to throw an opening-day shutout. The 28-year-old gave up three runs, five hits, a walk and struck out four in 6 2/3 innings.

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Colon was just 14-12 last year, after going 47-22 from 1998-2000.

"He's mixing his pitches up more," Cleveland manager Charlie Manuel said. "He's really slowed down in his motion to the plate. Every now and then, when he wants to throw the ball too hard, that's when he gets real fast and really puts a lot into it. He's really calmed down. He's using his breaking ball and changeup more. I think that's the key to his success."

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Colon also credited the 40-degree day in Detroit.

"I love to pitch in this kind of weather because when you throw hard, the hitters feel kind of timid swinging the bat," Colon said through an interpreter. "I'm real happy with the way I'm throwing. I'm throwing more strikes, and having an idea on every pitch. I worked during the winter and spring training just to be a pitcher, not to be a thrower like I used to be."

The Tigers (0-5) are baseball's lone winless team and are off to their worst start since losing the first six games in 1992. They have not had a winning season _ or a winning April _ since 1993.

"I'm trying to get it across to the guys that we can't worry about it," said Bobby Higginson, who hit a two-run homer. "All we can do is go out there and play the games and try to enjoy ourselves. Our careers are too short to do this without having any fun.

"I spent the first seven years of my career doing that, and I'm not going to do it for the next seven. I don't think anyone in here is worrying about this. The only time it gets mentioned is when the media brings it up."

Detroit's Nate Cornejo allowed four runs _ three earned _ on eight hits and five walks in 5 2/3 innings. The 22-year-old made his first start of the season, and 11th of his career.

An error prevented Cornejo from getting out of a bases-loaded jam he caused with three straight walks in the second.

After striking out Russell Branyan for the second out, third baseman Craig Paquette bobbled Einar Diaz's grounder for an error as Travis Fryman scored the game's first run.

The Indians loaded the bases again in the third, but Cornejo ended the threat by striking out Ricky Gutierrez.

"I was able to get myself out of some jams," Cornejo said. "That's the positive thing that I'm going to take away from this game. But I walked too many guys and I didn't make a couple pitches that I needed to make."

Detroit took its first lead since the season opener in the home half. On consecutive pitches, Jose Macias singled and Higginson homered _ the first allowed by Cleveland in 37 innings this year _ to put the Tigers ahead 2-1.

Branyan doubled and scored, and Burks hit an RBI double to give the Indians a 3-2 lead in the fourth. Burks chased Cornejo with an RBI single in the sixth.

Anderson's homer came in the seventh against Juan Acevedo.

Jacob Cruz tripled and scored in the bottom half to make it 5-3, and Ricardo Rincon replaced Colon following a two-out walk and got Higginson to fly out.

Bob Wickman pitched the ninth for his second save.

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