Indians slip past Reds, 3-2

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 26, 2005

The Associated Press

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - Maybe Jason Davis doesn't belong in the Indians' bullpen after all.

Davis, who began last season as Cleveland's No. 2 starter and ended it a converted reliever, pitched six shutout innings to lead the Indians to a 3-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night.

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It was the second straight strong outing by a Cleveland starter. On Thursday, Scott Elarton blanked Los Angeles for six innings.

The Indians aren't exactly sure what to do with Davis, who, when on his game, has possibly the best stuff on Cleveland's staff. The long-term plan is to make him a closer. In the meantime, he's scheduled to get a few starts in April while C.C. Sabathia recovers from an injury.

Davis allowed two hits, walked two and struck out six, including his final four batters.

Cincinnati's Paul Wilson, slated to pitch opening day against the New York Mets, didn't allow an earned run in six innings but took the loss. However, the right-hander deserved a better fate.

Two errors - one fielding, one throwing - on the same play by Cincinnati second baseman Luis Lopez gave the Indians a 2-0 lead in the fifth.

Cleveland loaded the bases on three consecutive two-out singles off Wilson, who got Travis Hafner to hit a grounder and should have been out of the inning. Lopez, though, misplayed the ball, booting it as one run scored.

Lopez then made things worse by trying to catch Jhonny Peralta rounding third and threw wildly.

Lopez partially atoned for his miscues with a homer in the eighth off Rafael Betancourt - the first run off Cleveland pitchers in 19 innings. Betancourt gave up another run in the ninth before getting the save.

Wilson mixed in every pitch he throws during his longest stint of the spring, and was encouraged after throwing 85 pitches on a humid night.

''I'm right where I need to be,'' said Wilson, who agreed to an $8.2 million, two-year deal to stay with the Reds last December.

He's approaching the last two spring starts as if they were regular-season games.

''The last two are game-type situations,'' Wilson said. ''I'm going out and competing against the other guy. I had some situations where I had to make a quality pitch, and I did.''

Casey Blake went 2-for-2 and Peralta had an RBI single for Cleveland.

Notes: As expected, the Indians placed Sabathia on the 15-day disabled list. He injured his side earlier this month and is not expected back until mid-April. The club also optioned RHP Kaz Tadano to Triple-A Buffalo. … Reds RHP Ramon Ortiz got treatment and reported no change Friday in his strained groin. Ortiz was injured on a pitch Tuesday, forcing him to leave the game. It's unclear whether the mild strain will affect manager Dave Miley's plans for the rotation. … Most of Cincinnati's regulars stayed back in Sarasota during the team's fourth straight night game. The Reds were scheduled to play a day game Saturday. … Ken Griffey Sr., a special scout for the Reds the last few years, sat behind home plate.