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Night of firsts for Francisco leads Indians to victory

Jun 30, 2007 - 3:18 AM CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- Ben Francisco arrived at Jacobs Field on Friday with no previous major league experience in the starting lineup. He left the stadium with a story he can tell his grandchildren.

Making his first career start, Francisco collected his first two hits, including a leadoff homer in the bottom of the ninth inning that gave the Cleveland Indians a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

A fifth-round pick in 2002, Francisco started the game in left field and recorded his first major league hit with a single in the fourth inning. But the 25-year-old's biggest thrill came in the ninth, when he deposited a 2-2 offering from Shawn Camp (0-2) over the left field wall to lift the Indians to their fourth win in five games.

"It was an awesome day," Francisco said. "I was just happy with getting my first hit and getting it out of the way. After I got the hit, I was relaxed the last couple times at the plate. That helped me. In the ninth, I was just trying to get on base and I ended up doing something special."

"Benny had a great game," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "It has to be some sort of thrill for that young man. It really picked up our ballclub."

The home run might have been a surprise to some, but not to Cleveland second baseman Josh Barfield.

"Josh told me before the game I would hit a home run to win the game," Francisco said.

It also completed Cleveland's major league-leading 24th comeback triumph of the season.

"These guys have always had a tremendous amount of fight," Wedge said. "Regardless of what the score is, these guys will finish it out. There is no clock in this game. They are going to play it out until the final out is made. If you do that, you are going to put yourself in a position to take some games late."

The blast made a winner of closer Joe Borowski (1-3), who tossed a scoreless top of the ninth en route to his first victory since September 2.

With the game even at 1-1, Cleveland had a chance to take the lead in the seventh. But Tampa Bay reliever Casey Fossum got slugger Travis Hafner to ground out softly with two on to end the threat.

Prior to the at-bat, Hafner was 4-for-4 lifetime against Fossum with two home runs.

After losing his first eight decisions, Devil Rays starter Edwin Jackson had another solid outing but was unable to notch his second straight win. Jackson finished strong, striking out four of the last five batters he faced - including all three in the sixth, his last inning of work.

"I gave my team a chance to win," Jackson said. "I feel good about that. I'd feel a lot better if the team did win. It's about the team winning." Cleveland got its only run against Jackson in the third. Grady Sizemore led off the inning with a walk and stole second, giving him a career-high 23 stolen bases this season.

Sizemore advanced to third on Casey Blake's groundout before scoring on Victor Martinez's grounder to first to knot the game at 1-1.

Jackson allowed five hits and a walk while striking out six.

"I threw my changeup more," he said. "I threw it for strikes and kept using it. It gives me another pitch in the mix. You need that against a tough lineup like Cleveland."

Indians starter Jake Westbrook made his second start since missing almost two months with a left abdominal strain. In his last outing against the Washington Nationals, Westbrook gave up three runs and seven hits in seven innings.

Westbrook was more effective in this one, yielding a run and five hits in seven innings. He escaped a jam in the first inning, striking out Carlos Pena and Ty Wigginton with the bases loaded to end the frame, but surrendered the game's first run in the second on an RBI single by Brendan Harris.

"We've got to get our offense started again," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "The game was pretty much lost in the first inning. We have to get more runs in that situation."

The righthander settled down after that, retiring the next 12 batters he faced and 16 of the last 17. Westbrook struck out a season-high seven but remained winless since April 27.

"I felt good," Wesbtrook said. "I just calmed down after the second and felt good about the way I was throwing the ball."








  • AL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    TAMPA BAY 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 6 0
    CLEVELAND 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 8 0 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: TAM - EDWIN JACKSON, JAY WITASICK (7TH), CASEY FOSSUM (7TH), GARY
    GLOVER (8TH), SHAWN CAMP (9TH) AND DIONER NAVARRO
    CLE - JAKE WESTBROOK, RAFAEL BETANCOURT (8TH), J

    Jun 29 9:47 PM


  • AL
    AT CLEVELAND - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY BEN FRANCISCO (1) TO LEFT WITH 0 OUT IN
    THE 9TH OFF SHAWN CAMP.
    FINAL SCORE: CLEVELAND 2, TAMPA BAY 1

    Rays vs. IndiansJun 29 9:47 PM
  • 40
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    RUWTbot Took away 25 roots (Close Finish)

    Rays vs. IndiansJun 29 9:47 PM
  • 65
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    RUWTbot Added 60 roots (Close Finish)

    Rays vs. IndiansJun 29 9:35 PM


  • AL
    AT CLEVELAND - SCORING UPDATE
    GROUND OUT BY VICTOR MARTINEZ SCORED GRADY SIZEMORE.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, NONE ON, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 1
    CLEVELAND 1 BOTTOM, 3RD
    DUE UP FOR CLEVELAND: T HAFNER (.256, 0-FOR-1)

    Rays vs. IndiansJun 29 8:03 PM
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    starbelly Added 5 roots

    Rays vs. IndiansJun 29 7:37 PM


  • AL
    AT CLEVELAND - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY BRENDAN HARRIS SCORED DIONER NAVARRO.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, B HARRIS ON FIRST, A IWAMURA ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 1
    CLEVELAND 0 TOP, 2ND
    DUE UP FOR TAMPA BAY: C CRAWFORD (.288, 0-FOR-1)

    Rays vs. IndiansJun 29 7:37 PM