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Sabathia, robbed at gunpoint May 17, pitched three-hit

Associated Press Published: May 26, 2002 12:00 AM

Sabathia, robbed at gunpoint May 17, pitched three-hit ball for seven innings, and Travis Fryman hit a three-run homer in the eighth as the Cleveland Indians beat the Toronto Blue Jays 3-0 Saturday.

"Off the field the robbery bothers me. On the field I'm having fun, and that's my release," Sabathia said.

Sabathia (4-4) struck out six and walked three to send Toronto to its 11th loss in the last 16 home games. The 21-year-old left-hander allowed two runs in six innings in a no-decision against Kansas City in his last start, a day after being robbed at a Cleveland hotel of $44,102 in cash and jewelry, including a necklace and earrings.

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"He's pitched two pretty good games since then," Indians manager Charlie Manuel said. "I would imagine that would get your attention."

Sabathia was 17-5 last season, finishing second in AL rookie of the year balloting to Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki. He was 1-4 with an 8.97 ERA in the previous five outings before being robbed.

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Sabathia and his cousin were at a Cleveland nightclub after the Indians' May 16 game was rained out. They met some people and went to a hotel for a party, where the pitcher was robbed in an elevator at 4 a.m.

Two former Cleveland State basketball players, Jamaal Harris and Damon Stringer, were charged in the robbery. Sabathia returned to Cleveland earlier this week to identify them in a police lineup.

Sabathia called the robbery a life-altering experience, and teammate Paul Shuey said the young pitcher has changed since.

"I haven't seen the earrings. He's not showing as much flash when he walks around," Shuey said. "Maybe he's a little more serious about what he's doing. That can really wake you up."

Shuey and Bob Wickman finished the five-hitter, Cleveland's third shutout of the season. Wickman worked the ninth for his 11 save in 12 opportunities.

"C.C. was real strong," Shuey said. "He's showing what he's made of right now."

Toronto starter Esteban Loaiza (2-1) extended his scoreless streak to a career-high 18 1/3 innings before Fryman broke up the scoreless tie with this fifth homer.

Loaiza walked Omar Vizquel leading of the eighth. Vizquel moved to second on a grounder before Loaiza intentionally walked Jim Thome to face Fryman, who hit a 1-0 pitch over the wall in left field.

The Indians won consecutive road games for the first time since April 6-7 in Detroit.

Fryman said he knew how Loaiza was going to pitch to him by his third at-bat.

"After he threw the first pitch off the plate a little bit I felt like the next pitch was going to be away, and it was," Fryman said.

Loaiza, who missed Spring Training and the first six weeks of the season because of tightness in his right shoulder, allowed seven hits in 7 1/3 innings.

"It was a great battle between both teams. There was some great pitching," he said.

Loaiza pitched a two-hit shutout in his last start.

"He was very good again," said Toronto manager Buck Martinez, who had Loaiza walk Thome to face Fryman. "I felt like the matchup with Fryman was a good one. Obviously, that was the wrong choice."

Notes: Sabathia was the second Indians player to be the victim of a holdup in the last six months. Utilityman Jolbert Cabrera was shot in the buttocks in a carjacking in Colombia in December. ... Vizquel, the shortstop, robbed Tom Wilson of a hit in the sixth with a diving play on a grounder. Vizquel quickly got to his feet and threw out Wilson at first. ... Toronto's Shannon Stewart (strained right hamstring) made his first start in the outfield since May 16.

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