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Cleveland in a rout

Hafner hits for cycle as Indians whack listless Twins again

Posted: Thursday August 14, 2003 4:09 PM
Updated: Thursday August 14, 2003 5:36 PM
  Travis Hafner Travis Hafner enjoys his first-inning homer, but the best was yet to come. AP

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- When stocky rookie Travis Hafner came up in the eighth inning needing his first triple of the season to complete the seventh cycle in Cleveland history, the Indians were selecting spots in the stadium where he had to send the ball to get a three-base hit.

He found one in right-center field.

Hafner hit for the cycle in his first four at-bats and Brian Anderson came within two outs of a shutout Thursday afternoon to lead Cleveland past the listless Minnesota Twins 8-3.

"As soon as it left the bat, guys jumped off the bench and were rooting hard for him to have enough gas to get there," Anderson said.

Hafner, a promising prospect because of his power stroke -- not his speed, was asked if his teammates had any good one-liners once he reached the dugout after scoring the Indians' eighth run.

"I don't think I could hear any," he said. "I was breathing too hard."

Hafner's was the first cycle hit by a Cleveland player since Andre Thornton did it on April 22, 1978, against Boston. The designated hitter homered in the first inning, hit a check-swing double in the fourth and reached on an infield single in the seventh against Twins starter Brad Radke.

The triple came off James Baldwin, when he slid into third without a play and drove in Ben Broussard to put the Indians up 7-0. It was the second career triple and the first in 185 at-bats this year for Hafner, a 6-foot-3, 240-pounder who was acquired in an offseason trade with Texas. He's batting .254 with eight homers and 28 RBIs.

"I think they enjoyed watching me run the bases and slide more than the actual cycle itself," said Hafner, a native of Sykeston, N.D. "It's a pretty neat thing, but I'm just glad we came out and played well in the game."

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire wished he would've felt that way.

"That was embarrassing. Embarrassing for our fans," Gardenhire said. "We have guys with no clue. No clue what's going on out there. I apologize for the way we played."

Anderson (9-9) allowed six hits, two walks and a run in 8 1-3 innings while striking out eight. The Twins ended their scoreless streak at 22 1-3 innings when Matthew LeCroy homered in the ninth and cost the Indians their chance at back-to-back shutouts for the first time since 1991.

The Twins, who begin a three-game series in Kansas City on Friday, fell four games back of the idle Royals in the AL Central.

"We need to go out everyday like it's our last game," said Jacque Jones, who had one of the Twins' nine hits. "If we don't do that, we should go home. If we do, we'll win a lot of games and we'll get back over the mountain."

The Twins, their bullpen taxed by a 9-6 loss on Tuesday and a 5-0 defeat in 14 innings on Wednesday, badly needed a quality start from Radke that they didn't get.

Radke (8-10) suffered his first loss in six starts after the All-Star break, giving up nine hits and five runs in 6 1-3 innings while striking out three.

Anderson, who picked up his first win in four starts, pitched seven shutout innings in a no-decision Saturday against Anaheim. After LeCroy's homer with one out in the ninth, Anderson was relieved by David Cortes -- who gave up a sacrifice fly to Dustan Mohr and an RBI single to Cristian Guzman.

"Two days in a row not hitting the ball," Gardenhire said. "It's embarrassing."

Casey Blake homered and drove in three runs and Jhonny Peralta hit a pair of doubles for Cleveland, which won for the eighth time in 11 games and improved to 8-3 against Minnesota this year -- 6-2 at the Metrodome.

The Indians left their clubhouse energized after taking three of four from a pennant contender and witnessing Hafner's improbable feat.

"You want your guys pulling for each other," manager Eric Wedge said.

Notes: Hafner hit the second triple of his major league career. ... Hocking replaced Doug Mientkiewicz at 1B for the Twins. Mientkiewicz has a sore wrist on his glove hand and is day-to-day. ... Blake, who played briefly for Minnesota in 2001 and 2002, is batting .294 with four homers and 10 RBIs against his old team this year. ... Milwaukee's Paul Molitor hit for the cycle on May 15, 1991 -- the last time the feat occurred in the Metrodome and the last one the Twins have given up. ... The Twins are 23-24 against the Central this year after going 50-25 last season.

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