CLEVELAND (AP) ― While fans endured sweltering heat, Ubaldo Jimenez looked at the thermometer and just smiled.
Jimenez shook off the mid-90s heat and left his own mid-90s fastball on the shelf, using a variety of breaking balls to strike out eight over six innings and help the Cleveland Indians beat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-3 on Saturday.
“I love this weather,” said Jimenez, a native of the Dominican Republic. “You get good and loose right away. I felt very comfortable.”
Jimenez (8-7) allowed a two-run homer to Luke Scott in the fourth inning, but otherwise was in command. The right-hander gave up five hits and walked only one, using a sharp slider and split-finger changeup instead of his usual big fastball.
“I probably used less than half fastballs,” said Jimenez, explaining that catcher Lou Marson saw the slider working and just kept calling it.
The Indians bunched five runs into the second and third innings against Matt Moore (5-6) and Shelley Duncan hit a two-run homer as Cleveland won for the fourth time in five games.
Cleveland remained three games behind the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox.
Everything seemed to go the Indians’ way, even when they appeared to make an out. They got a reprieve in the seventh inning when plate umpire Scott Berry overruled his partner at first base Jerry Meals. With two outs and none on, Jose Lopez grounded to Tampa Bay shortstop Sean Rodriguez, whose low throw was scooped up by first baseman Carlos Pena and the Rays left the field.
Indians manager Manny Acta protested that Pena bobbled the ball. Berry agreed, allowing Lopez to remain at first and ordering the Rays to go back to the field. Carlos Santana then hit a fly ball to left field for the inning’s final out.
“You could see it from the dugout and I just said he never had the ball,” Acta said. “The main thing is getting the play right.”
Jimenez won for the first time in three starts. He got out of a first-inning jam by firing a called third strike past Jeff Keppinger with two Rays on base. He then pitched efficiently except in the fourth, when Ben Zobrist hit a leadoff double and scored on Scott’s two-out shot over the wall in center.
The right-hander lowered his ERA to 4.50 with his seventh straight start of six or more innings. Since giving up seven runs in a 12-6 loss to the White Sox on May 27 that ballooned his ERA to a season-high 5.79, Jimenez has a 2.93 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 46 innings.
NY Yankees 6, Boston 1 Gm. 1
Boston 9, NY Yankees 5 Gm. 2
Detroit 8, Kansas City 7
Houston 6, Milwaukee 3
Washington 4, Colorado 1
Pittsburgh 3, San Francisco 1
Chicago White Sox 2, Toronto 0
NY Mets 3, Chicago Cubs 1
St. Louis 3, Miami 2
Texas 4, Minnesota 3
Atlanta 6, Philadelphia 3
LA Angels 3, Baltimore 0
Cincinnati 6, San Diego 5
Seattle 7, Oakland 1
Arizona 5, LA Dodgers 3