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Hafner's RBI single in 11th gives Indians 2-0 lead against Yankees

Oct 6, 2007 - 4:05 AM CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- Andy Pettitte and Fausto Carmona put on quite a performance, but Travis Hafner stole their thunder at buggy Jacobs Field.

Hafner lined a two-out, bases-loaded single in the bottom of the 11th inning as the Cleveland Indians took a commanding two-games-to-none lead in their American League Division Series against the New York Yankees with a 2-1 triumph on Friday.

Cleveland will go for the sweep Sunday at Yankee Stadium in New York.

"We'll fly into New York tonight, let the guys blow off a little steam, work out tomorrow and play hard on Sunday," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. "That's what we have been doing all season. Tomorrow, we will be focusing on Sunday, not Monday."

On the other side of the diamond, the mission is simple.

"We have to win a game," Yankees captain Derek Jeter said flatly.

After the Indians finally pushed across a run without a hit to tie the game at 1-1 in the eighth, when the players were attacked by bugs, and left the bases loaded in the 10th against Mariano Rivera, Kenny Lofton drew a four-pitch leadoff walk in the 11th against Luis Vizcaino (0-1), who was making his second career postseason appearance and had allowed nine runs in his last eight innings.

After failing on two sacrifice attempts, Franklin Gutierrez grounded a single to left field on a 1-2 pitch and Casey Blake advanced both with a sacrifice in front of the plate.

Grady Sizemore was walked intentionally and rookie Asdrubal Cabrera popped out to first base, setting the stage for Hafner, who lined a 3-2 fastball into right-center for the Indians' second hit in 18 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

"It's a funny game," Wedge said. "But you have got to keep yourself in position to win the ball game with one swing of the bat. I'm not talking about a home run or double, when it is that type of game."

Hafner, who lined out to first with a runner on third in the eighth, jumped into the air immediately after his swing and the Indians mobbed Lofton at home plate.

"I had come up a few other times (with runners on) and had two punchouts and hit one on the screws to first," Hafner said. "I just said, 'I hope I get up again.' It was a great situation to hit, bases loaded, and I got a 3-2 changeup, stayed back and put a good swing on it.

"Great to come through, but it was just great to win the game, that was the most important thing."

Rafael Perez (1-0), who pitched two scoreless innings for the second straight day, was the winner.

The Indians could not hit all night with runners in scoring position, but they didn't need to as they tied the game in eighth without getting a hit.

Prior that frame, Jacobs Field was infested by bugs, which was an obvious distraction to all the players.

"We've seen (the bugs) happen before," Wedge said. "We had plenty of OFF going around. It wasn't as bad in the dugout."

The insects, which were sticking to Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain's face and neck, may have bothered the focus of the flamethrower, who walked Sizemore on four pitches to start the inning.

"Bugs are bugs," Chamberlain said. "You can look at a million things, but we are in the loss column because I didn't do my job."

After a sacrifice by Cabrera, Sizemore advanced to third on a wild pitch and Hafner lined a rope that first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, who was playing in on the grass, caught right in front of his face before falling to his knees.

But after a first-pitch ball to Victor Martinez, Chamberlain uncorked a low and inside breaking ball that got past Jorge Posada, and Sizemore just beat the throw home after it took an opportunistic bounce off the backstop back to the catcher.

Chamberlain then hit Martinez and walked Ryan Garko before striking out Peralta to avoid further damage.

"It was really tough out there," Posada said. "They come out of nowhere. They were even worse on the mound."

Lost in all the late-inning fireworks were the outstanding performances by Pettitte and Carmona, who quieted down two of the top offenses in the majors.

While Pettitte was in trouble from just about the time he took the mound, Carmona dominated the Yankees with the exception of a third-inning homer by Melky Cabrera.

The 23-year-old sinkerballer, who was 5-0 with a 1.78 ERA in September and pitching on eight days' rest, showed no signs of nerves in his first postseason start. He pitched nine innings and held the Yankees' potent attack to only three hits and two walks while striking out five, including AL MVP candidate Alex Rodriguez three times.

"Going back through the whole year, the way I've been pitching, I was thinking when I was on the mound like it was just another game," Carmona said through a translator. "I didn't put any pressure like it was a playoff. I just continued pitching the way I had been pitching the whole year."

"Carmona was pretty nasty," Jeter said. "He wasn't fun to face. He pitched well."

Carmona allowed just one runner to advance to second base after the fourth inning, striking out Rodriguez with Bobby Abreu on second and two outs in the ninth.

"I was excited with the situation," Rodriguez said. "I thought I was the right man for the right spot."

Rodriguez, who entered the series with just four hits in his last 48 postseason at-bats, went 0-for-4 Friday and is hitless in six at-bats in the series.

"I am pressing, but I have to swing at strikes," Rodriguez said.

Pettitte was in trouble most of the night as he allowed a baserunner in every inning. But the veteran lefthander did not allow the Indians to push across a run, leaving in the seventh with a 1-0 lead and a chance to tie John Smoltz for the most career playoff wins at 35.

"About as courageous a game he has had," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "I said, 'One run is going to have to be enough it looks like.' Because Carmona was so dominant." In the sixth, Pettitte wiggled out of his biggest jam. Sizemore grounded a triple down the first base line, but Pettitte got Asdrubal Cabrera on a comebacker and struck out Hafner and Martinez on a total of seven pitches.

"I was able to bear down and make some crucial pitches when I had to," Pettitte said. Pettitte got some luck and help in the seventh after yielding a one-out double off the top of the 19-foot wall in left-center by Jhonny Peralta. If the ball had been hit two feet higher or two feet to the right, the game would have been tied.

"That's the first ball I've ever hit there in this ballpark and I was surprised," Peralta said. "But there is nothing you can do. We had so many chances and you start to wonder, but we kept going and won the game. It is a very big win."

After Pettitte walked Lofton on four pitches, Chamberlain entered. The outstanding rookie struck out Gutierrez on three pitches and retired Blake on a fly ball to right. "I was in an awful lot of trouble," Pettitte said. "I was able to make the pitches when I had to get out of it, but I was in trouble almost every inning."

Pettitte allowed a leadoff singles in the first, fourth and fifth innings and a leadoff double in the third. In the second, Peralta drew a two-out walk and stole second but was thrown out at the plate by Melky Cabrera after a single to center by Lofton.