CLEVELAND, OH —Cliff Lee would rather extend winning streaks than stop a string of losses.
Lee bounced back from his only poor outing this season and Ben Francisco hit a three-run homer to help Cleveland snap its seven-game losing streak with a 5-2 win over the Texas Rangers on Saturday night.
“I would like for us to win the game before I pitched, too,” said Lee (7-1), who earlier this year broke a trio of three-game losing streaks. “I don’t give much thought to streaks.”
The left-hander was not as sharp as he when he compiled an 0.67 ERA and 6-0 record in his first seven starts. He gave up two runs and seven hits over 6 2-3 innings, striking out eight with a season-high three walks.
“Other than walking (Chris) Shelton three times, I’m pretty happy,” Lee said. “They’ve got a good lineup, a lot of good hitters, and I gave my team a chance to win. That’s my goal.”
Texas failed to get at least 10 hits for the first time in six games as Lee was better than his previous start. Sunday in Cincinnati, the Reds tagged him for five earned runs and 10 hits over 5 2-3 innings.
“I didn’t think about that game,” Lee said. “What I did tonight is over, too. I have to focus on my next start and just keep going.”
Francisco, robbed of a three-run homer by an umpire’s blown call Friday night, left nothing to chance by hitting a 2-2 pitch from Scott Feldman (1-2) well over the wall in left for his second homer to put Cleveland ahead 4-2 in the third inning. On Friday, he hit a ball that TV replays showed cleared the wall, but the umpires ruled it in play and Francisco got only an RBI double.
“It was nice to get it over the rail and make it no doubt,” said Francisco, who has hit safely in 14 of his last 18 games, going 23-for-62 (.371) with 11 RBI.
“We definitely needed a win,” Francisco continued. “They got the lead on us, but Cliff pitched great, we got some hits and came back.”
Feldman was upset at giving up the homer.
“I completely missed my spot,” the right-hander said. “It was supposed to be down and away and it was middle in.
“I’m really disappointed. When you’re going against a pitcher like Cliff Lee, you can’t give up five runs and expect to win.”
Rafael Perez pitched 1 1-3 perfect innings of relief and Joe Borowski worked the ninth for his third save. Borowski, activated Friday after spending five weeks on the disabled list with a strained right triceps, gave up a two-out single to Michael Young and got Josh Hamilton on a long flyout to left to end the game.
“I’ve been doing this since 1989, but still felt butterflies on the first batter,” said Borowski, whose 45 saves a year ago led the AL. “I felt good and my location was very good. The big thing was being able to throw without having to worry in the back of my mind about pain.”
Lee yielded single runs in each of the first two innings.
He struck out Ian Kinsler to open the game, yielded singles to Young and Hamilton, then fanned Milton Bradley. David Murphy singled home Young before Lee came back to strike out Gerald Laird, too.
In the second, Marlon Byrd doubled and Chris Shelton drew a walk. Lee struck out German Duran, yielded an RBI single to Kinsler, then fanned Young and got Hamilton to line out to short.
“Cliff was up early and started working back down in the zone,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “Where he was working early just wasn’t going to make it, but I love the fact that he got better as the game went on.”
Francisco doubled and scored on an error in the bottom half to get Cleveland within 2-1.
Jhonny Peralta hit his ninth homer in the Cleveland sixth off Feldman, who allowed five runs and six hits over six innings.