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Cleveland lowers the broom

Indians sweep Tigers, get magic number to 3

Cleveland manager Eric Wedge congratulates Joe Borowski, who earned his league-leading 42d save for finishing off Detroit, the reigning AL champs. Cleveland manager Eric Wedge congratulates Joe Borowski, who earned his league-leading 42d save for finishing off Detroit, the reigning AL champs. (AARON JOSEFCZYK/REUTERS)

Once top cats in the AL Central, the Detroit Tigers were tamed, declawed, and chased away with a broom.

The Cleveland Indians simply wouldn't let them hang around.

Not this year.

"They're going to be Central Division champions, obviously," Tigers manager Jim Leyland conceded yesterday after the host Indians completed a three-game sweep with a 4-2 win. "They did what a championship team does."

C.C. Sabathia (18-7) upgraded his Cy Young Award résumé and the Indians, a fourth-place finisher in 2006, dropped their magic number to three for clinching their first title since 2001.

When Cleveland was in the midst of its worst stretch of the season last month, Sabathia boldly predicted the Indians would win the division. It appears the big lefty was right.

"I just felt it," Sabathia said. "I knew this was coming. I had no regrets saying that at all. Here we are."

Casey Blake homered off Nate Robertson (8-12) as the Indians improved to 20-5 since Aug. 25.

By winning three straight over the Tigers, Cleveland opened a season-high 7 1/2-game lead over the defending AL champs, who led in every game of the series but couldn't put the Indians away.

This was not the sweep Detroit had in mind. The Tigers fell 5 1/2 games back in the wild-card race behind New York, which beat Baltimore, 2-1, last night.

Angels 2, Devil Rays 1 - Ervin Santana struck out 10, Juan Rivera homered, and host Los Angeles beat Tampa Bay for its 90th victory of the season.

The Angels reduced their magic number to three for clinching their third AL West title in four years.

Santana (7-13) allowed one run and six hits in 6 1/3 innings as the replacement starter for Bartolo Colon, who developed back stiffness after pitching 4 2/3 innings Friday against Chicago.

Astros 5, Brewers 4 - Hunter Pence singled home the winning run off Matt Wise in the 10th inning and host Houston beat Milwaukee, dropping the Brewers out of first place in the NL Central. Rickie Weeks hit a two-run homer in the ninth off Astros closer Brad Lidge to force extra innings. But the Brewers, who had won four in a row, wound up falling one game behind Chicago.

Mariners 9, Athletics 5 - Felix Hernandez won his third straight decision, Raul Ibanez stroked an RBI triple a day after hitting a grand slam, and visiting Seattle completed a three-game sweep of Oakland.

Ichiro Suzuki went 2 for 3 to extend his hitting streak to 12 games, and Yuniesky Betancourt drove in three runs.

Mets 8, Nationals 4 - David Wright's three RBIs, Moises Alou's three hits, and Mike Pelfrey's good-enough start helped visiting New York beat Washington, ending a five-game losing streak.

Cardinals 2, Phillies 1 - Yadier Molina singled home the winning run with two outs in the 10th inning, giving host St. Louis a victory that stopped Philadelphia's six-game winning streak.

Coming off a tense, 7-4, 14-inning victory Tuesday, the Phillies went ahead on Pat Burrell's RBI double in the sixth only to have pitcher Adam Wainwright tie the score for St. Louis with a run-scoring single in the bottom half.

Rockies 6, Dodgers 5 - Brad Hawpe hit a two-run homer in the eighth as Colorado rallied for the second straight night in a victory over visiting Los Angeles.

Hawpe's homer to right came off Jonathan Broxton, who also gave up a two-run shot to Ryan Spilborghs the night before.

Cubs 3, Reds 2 - Alfonso Soriano homered and made a great throw to cut down a run at the plate, and visiting Chicago scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning to beat Cincinnati.

Padres 5, Pirates 3 - Scott Hairston hit a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning and host San Diego rallied past Pittsburgh to take a 2 1/2-game lead over Philadelphia for a playoff spot.

Diamondbacks 6, Giants 4 - Conor Jackson homered and Chris Snyder had three hits and three RBIs, and host Arizona defeated San Francisco to stay one game ahead of San Diego in the NL West.

Braves 5, Marlins 1 - Edgar Renteria had three hits, including a homer, Chipper Jones had two hits, and Chuck James allowed only two hits in seven scoreless innings as host Atlanta beat Florida.

Twins 4, Rangers 2 - Matt Garza recovered from a leadoff homer to win a start at home as Minnesota beat Texas. Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer each homered for the Twins.

White Sox 7, Royals 0 - Jim Thome hit two home runs and Jose Contreras (10-16) threw a five-hitter for visiting Chicago.

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