Vizquel's six hits tie AL record

NEW YORK (AP) -- With an epic defeat, the New York Yankees' hold
on first place in the AL East became increasingly tenuous.

Omar Vizquel got six hits to tie the American League record for
a nine-inning game and the Cleveland Indians routed New York 22-0
Tuesday night in the largest loss in the 101-year history of the

Cleveland matched the largest shutout win in the major leagues
since 1900, set by Pittsburgh against the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 16,

"It's obviously embarrassing," Yankees catcher Jorge Posada
said in words repeated by several teammates.

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner watched his team fall in
record fashion, then refused to answer questions as he left the
ballpark. New York captain Derek Jeter left the clubhouse before
reporters were allowed in.

Although many expected Steinbrenner to erupt Wednesday morning, the mercurial owner simply issued a reserved statement.

"Sure, we got punished badly last night, but winners never quit
and quitters never win," Steinbrenner said. "New Yorkers never
quit, and we reflect the spirit of New York."

Cleveland's runs total seemed to spin by on the scoreboard as
fast as the symbols on a slot machine. New York's AL East lead,
which stood at 10½ games on the morning of Aug. 16, was cut to 3½
games by Boston, which beat Anaheim 10-7 for its 19th win in 23

"Sure, we're aware of where they are and what they're doing,
but you can't lose perspective," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
"It really wasn't much fun watching anything, our scoreboard or

Javier Vazquez (13-8) was knocked out in the second inning,
Cleveland took a 15-0 lead in the fifth and Jody Gerut and Victor
Martinez hit three-run homers off Esteban Loaiza in the ninth.

New York had never lost by more than 18 runs, falling 24-6 at
Cleveland on July 29, 1928, and 19-1 at home against Detroit on
June 17, 1925. Previously, the Yankees' biggest shutout loss was
15-0 to Chicago White Sox on July 15, 1907, and May 4, 1950.

"The way Cleveland played tonight, we'd better worry about
Cleveland, not about Boston," Alex Rodriguez said.

Jake Westbrook (12-6) improved to 6-1 in his last nine starts,
allowing five hits in seven innings. Jeremy Guthrie finished with
hitless relief, extending the scoreless streak by Cleveland
pitchers to 21 innings.

"It's good to see your offense do that," Westbrook said.
"It's good for them. It's great for your team."

Cleveland, which had season highs for runs and hits (22), set a
team record for largest shutout win, topping its 19-0 rout of
Boston on May 18, 1955. The Indians stopped an eight-game losing
streak at Yankee Stadium that dated to June 2001.

Vazquez, his faced bowed and wiping sweat off his face, walked
off the field to boos after 1 1-3 innings, matching the shortest
start of his career. Vazquez gave up six runs, and the Indians then
scored seven off Tanyon Sturtze and three against C.J. Nitkowski.

"I thought I had good stuff today coming into the game," said
Vazquez, 2-4 in eight starts following New York losses. "It's one
of the worst games ever in my seven-year career."

Cleveland, which moved back over .500 at 67-66, scored three
runs in each of the first three innings, then added six more in the
fifth. Every Indians batter had scored by the fifth and the top
eight batters in the order all had RBI.

Travis Hafner hit a three-run triple in the first inning, and
Coco Crisp homered and drove in three runs. Vizquel and Martinez
had four RBI each.

Vizquel had a chance for a seventh hit, but flied out in the

"Every at-bat, you try to do what fits the situation," he
said. "I just happened to put the ball in play every time."

New York, booed early and often by the crowd of 51,777, has lost
five straight home games for the first time since May 2003. Its
season is beginning to resemble a mirror image of 1978 -- when the
Yankees dropped to fourth place and trailed the Red Sox by 14 games
after play on July 19, then rebounded to win the AL East in a
one-game playoff.

The largest lead held by a team that failed to finish first was
11 games by the 1995 California Angels, according to the Elias
Sport Bureau.

New York and Boston have a pair of three-game series left, at
Yankee Stadium from Sept. 17-19 and at Fenway Park from Sept.

Second baseman Miguel Cairo made a mistake in the first, when he
picked up Matt Lawton's one-out grounder and threw to second, where
he failed to get the out. Vazquez walked Martinez, gave up the
triple to Hafner, and the rout was on.

Cleveland, which had lost 11 of 14 since moving within a game of
AL Central-leading Minnesota on Aug. 14, began the night seven
games behind the Twins.

"Our goal is to make a final run at this thing," Indians
manager Eric Wedge said. "We're playing the teams we need to play
to do it, and this certainly doesn't hurt."

Rodriguez tried to be philosophic about the defeat.

"It's one game," he said. "If we win 22-0, we're not going to
get credit for three victories."

Game notes
The previous AL player with six hits was Detroit's Carlos
Pena on May 27 at Kansas City. Jorge Orta had been the last
Cleveland player with six hits in a nine-inning game, on June 15,
1980, against Minnesota. ... Vazquez also lasted 1 1-3 innings on
April 14, 1998, for Montreal against Milwaukee.