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Indians' Lee first to reach 20 wins

The Baltimore Sun

INDIANS 5, WHITE SOX 0

Cliff Lee became the majors' first 20-game winner this season, pitching a five-hitter for his second career shutout to lead host Cleveland over Chicago.

Lee (20-2) is the first Indians pitcher to reach 20 wins since Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry went 21-13 in 1974. The left-hander's milestone win - his ninth straight victory - came exactly one year after he was recalled from the minor leagues.

He shut down the hard-hitting White Sox with ease.

He gave up two singles to open the first and then retired 21 in row.

Lee's 20 wins put a resounding stamp on his turnaround season.

"I never lost confidence," he said. "I never got down on myself or questioned my abilities. I never once doubted what I could do."

Ineffective for the first four months of 2007, he had been sent to the minors in July, a startling downfall for a pitcher who had won 46 games over the previous three years.

In his final start before the demotion, Lee was booed off the field and sarcastically tipped his cap at Indians fans who were sick of seeing him.

Now, they can't get enough of him.

He is the 25th Indians pitcher to get 20 wins and the American League's fifth 20-game winner since 2004.

The Indians took a 1-0 lead in the second off Clayton Richard (2-3) on Shin Soo-Choo's RBI single. Jhonny Peralta drew a leadoff walk and Ryan Garko followed with a base hit. Choo followed with a smash that deflected off second baseman Alexei Ramirez's glove into right, scoring Peralta.

Ben Francisco's RBI single made it 2-0 in third.

The Indians put the game out of reach in the fourth as they scored two runs on three straight doubles by Franklin Gutierrez, Kelly Shoppach and Asdrubal Cabrera.

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