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Tribe Stays In The Hunt

With only four games left, it doesn't take a degree in mathematics to break down the AL wild card picture.

"It's getting down there now where even I can count it up and figure it out," Indians manager Charlie Manuel. "What's that tell ya?"

That time's running out on the Indians.

Jason Bere didn't blow another seven-run lead and Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome homered as Cleveland kept pressure on Oakland in the AL wild card race Wednesday night with an 8-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins.

Bere (6-3) rebounded from a disastrous start in Boston last week when he gave back a 7-0 lead to the Red Sox, who rallied for a 9-8 win.

That loss could keep the Indians awake at night this winter if they're unable to catch the A's, who beat Anaheim on Wednesday and remained 1@1/2 games ahead of Cleveland.

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  • The Indians have four games left and the A's four, plus a possible makeup against Tampa Bay on Monday, if necessary.

    "Two down, four to go," Manuel said.

    Bill Selby, getting a rare start at DH, had two RBIs when the Indians broke it open with a five-run fourth off Brad Radke (12-16).

    Thome, in one of the worst slumps of his career, homered for the first time since Sept. 5 a span of 83 at-bats.

    Bere has either been real good or good bad in his 11 starts for the Indians since coming over in a July trade with Milwaukee. The right-hander allowed two runs and five hits 5 2-3 innings.

    "We need to win at all costs and it starts with the starting pitcher," Bere said. "I was able to put up some zeros in the first three innings and gave our guys a chance to swing the bats."

    Cleveland came to the plate ithe first against Radke (12-16) just seconds after Oakland's 9-7 win over Anaheim was posted on the left-field scoreboard, and Ramirez quickly put the Indians up 2-0 with his 34th homer.

    Kenny Lofton opened with a bunt single, and two outs later, Ramirez connected for his fifth homer in 47 career at-bats against Radke.

    It's frightening to think what Ramirez may have done if he hadn't missed 44 games this season with a hamstring injury. Since returning, he's batting .372 with 22 homers and 71 RBIs in 67 games.

    And his numbers rise, so does the dollar amount it could cost the Indians to re-sign him as a free agent.

    With David Segui resting his sore right foot, Selby made his first start as the Indians' DH and triggered the five-run fourth with a two-run single.

    Ramirez singled, and one out later, Travis Fryman got a double when right fielder Matt Lawton, wearing plastic cleats, slipped and fell on the rubberized warning track. Selby followed with his base hit to make it 4-1.

    "It was like or something out there," Lawton said. "It was real slippery. I used metal spikes out there during batting practice and I still slipped. So I figured it didn't make any difference."

    Sandy Alomar followed with a single and Kenny Lofton and Omar Vizquel hit bloopers before Roberto Alomar's single capped the outburst and gave Bere a 7-1 lead.

    "I sure didn't want to have a game like this in my last start of the season," said Radke, who dropped to 5-12 with a 6.05 ERA in his career against Cleveland. "I'll forget this game in about an hour."

    The Twins closed to 2-1 in the fourth on a two-out RBI single by A.J. Pierzynski.

    Notes

  • Manuel said Segui may not play again at first before Sunday. If he's not in too much, pain he'll DH Thursday night.
  • Cleveland's 111 homers at Jacobs Field are a single-season record.
  • The Indians, an AL-best 43-29 in the second half, could be dangerous is they make the playoffs. The Indians' top three starters Chuck Finley, Dave Burba and Bartolo Colon have compiled an 18-5 record with a 3.50 ERA in 33 starts since Aug. 1. The trio is 12-1 with a 1.68 ERA in September.
  • The Twins signed RHP Jason Simontacchi, who pitched for the Italian Olympic team in Sydney, to a minor league contract.
  • Indians LHP Ricardo Rincon allowed his first inherited runner of the season to score in the sixth.
  • Minnesota's Torii Hunter extended his hitting streak to a career-high 10 games.

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