Hot Indians vow to be cool

Cleveland, 3 1/2 back in Central, starts 3-game series in Chicago today

Baseball: American League

September 19, 2005

After completing a three-game sweep of Kansas City, the Cleveland Indians promised to maintain a calm demeanor when they start a key series today in Chicago.

"Why change anything now?" outfielder Coco Crisp said after getting three hits in yesterday's 11-0 rout of the visiting Royals. "We want to win every game, not just three in Chicago. But we're not going to get all worried about it."

Jhonny Peralta, Travis Hafner and Ben Broussard homered, and C.C. Sabathia allowed just five singles over eight innings.

The Indians headed to Chicago with a 1 1/2 -game lead over the New York Yankees in the American League wild-card race and are 3 1/2 games back of the White Sox in the AL Central.

Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox maintained their 1 1/2 -game lead on the Yankees in the AL East, while the Los Angeles Angels remained two games in front of the Oakland Athletics in the AL West. The A's are five games behind in the wild card.

"We're fortunate that the Yankees lost," Boston's Johnny Damon said. "Everyone is scoreboard watching, the players and the fans."

Aaron Boone, who had two hits and made two stellar plays at third base, said the Indians are determined despite a laid-back appearance.

"We realize there is more at stake, but I promise you we'll go there with the same attitude," said Boone. "That's just the way this team is."

Cleveland has won five straight and 12 of 13, and the Indians are a major league-best 33-11 since July 31. Chicago held a 15-game lead on Aug. 1.

"This is fun," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "I love to watch these guys play, how they go out and compete day after day. They've earned the right to be where they are."

Pitching is what put the White Sox in first place, and Jose Contreras is trying his best to keep them there.

Contreras gave the struggling White Sox eight strong innings in a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins yesterday.

"This kid, the last two weeks, every time we need it he goes out and does a tremendous job," manager Ozzie Guillen said, later declaring Contreras his best current starter in a rotation that includes Jon Garland and Mark Buehrle.

Chicago still has the league's best record (90-58) with 14 games remaining despite a 22-23 mark since Aug. 1. The White Sox finish the season with a three-game series at the Indians (87-62).

"We're going through a tough time right now," Jermaine Dye of the White Sox said, "but a win is a win and we'll take it."

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