Indians beat Twins 5-4
CLEVELAND -- Chuck Finley's delayed season debut was worth the wait.
Finley, who had to skip his first start last week after a domestic dispute with his wife, pitched six shutout innings Tuesday night as the Cleveland Indians won their sixth straight game 5-4 over the Minnesota Twins.
Milton Bradley hit a two-run homer, Ricky Gutierrez had two RBIs and Matt Lawton hit a solo shot off Joe Mays (0-2) as the Indians, who were expected to struggle during a transition season, improved to 7-1 in front of the smallest crowd ever at Jacobs Field.
Finley missed his start on April 3 in Anaheim after his wife, actress Tawny Kitaen, was arrested for allegedly assaulting him while the couple was driving home. Kitaen was charged with spousal abuse and battery.
Before the game, Indians manager Charlie Manuel said he was more concerned about how Finley would pitch following a 10-day layoff than the 39-year-old's emotional state.
"He's a pro," Manuel said. "He's a man. He's been around the block a few times. I think Chuck Finley is man enough to handle anything that comes his way."
Finley didn't have much trouble with the Twins, allowing four hits. He struck out seven and walked four -- two in the third when he loaded the bases. But the left-hander struck out Matt LeCroy on three pitches for the final out.
Finley also got some help from Cleveland catcher Einar Diaz, who threw out two runners trying to steal.
Cleveland's starting pitching has been superb so far, and with Finley's win, the Indians' rotation is 7-0 with a 2.82 ERA.
Bob Wickman worked a shaky ninth for his fourth save, giving up RBI singles to Jacque Jones and Cristian Guzman before striking out Doug Mientkiewicz with the potential tying run on first to end it.
The emphasis on pitching has yet to convince Cleveland fans that this team is as good as previous power-hitting Indians teams. Only 23,760, the smallest crowd at Jacobs Field since the ballpark opened in 1994, came out on a wet, chilly April night.
Cleveland fans, who set a major league record by selling out the Jake 455 straight games, have been slow to embrace the 2002 Indians and haven't bought tickets like they normally do. But the fast start should improve business at the box office.
Working Mays deep into counts, the Indians staked Finley to a 4-0 lead with a four-run second inning.
Gutierrez delivered an RBI single on a 3-2 pitch before Bradley, who came over last season in a trade with Montreal, followed with his first AL homer -- a shot into the right-field seats.
One out later, Lawton homered for the second straight day against his former teammates and posed to watch it before heading down the first-base line.
Mays didn't get out of the fourth inning in his first start, giving up five runs and five hits in three innings.
Gutierrez's run-scoring single put the Indians up 5-0 in the third.
The Twins finally scored in the seventh off Jerrod Riggan on pinch-hitter A.J. Pierzynski's RBI double and Guzman's run-scoring infield single.
Notes: Mays is 0-4 lifetime against Cleveland. ... Finley's 22 career wins against the Twins are his most against any opponent. ... Cleveland extended its contract with Triple-A affiliate Buffalo through 2006. ... Manuel opened his speech at a Tuesday luncheon by instructing the crowd to boo together on the count of three. After the crowd finished, Manuel said, "Good, now I feel like I'm home." ... The Twins failed to score first for the first time in eight games this season. ... Cleveland drew 24,447 on April 25, 1994, against Minnesota -- previously the smallest crowd at the Jake.