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Boone's homer helps Tribe seal series

Boone's homer helps Tribe seal series

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CINCINNATI -- Aaron Boone, on a seemingly endless search for power this season, came to the right place to find it Sunday afternoon.

In a stadium where the ball carries exceptionally well, Boone hit an eighth-inning, two-run home run to propel the Indians to a series-clinching 6-3 victory over the Reds at Great American Ball Park.

The blast was a rare one for Boone, who hadn't homered since June 7 and who didn't go deep at all in the month of May. But it was a big one for the Indians, who won their second series in as many tries on this weeklong road trip.

"It's nice to get a big hit and contribute in a big win," Boone said. "Hopefully this road trip was pretty good for us. It could have been great."

Ah, yes. What might have been. Had the Indians not blown ninth-inning leads both Wednesday in St. Louis and Friday night here, they would have gone 6-0 on the trip.

"We definitely played better baseball," manager Eric Wedge said. "It's very easy to say we could have gone 6-0. We should have been 6-0. But we won two series against two good teams. This, hopefully, is a good start for us."

This game got off to a good start for left-hander C.C. Sabathia, who had the benefit of Ronnie Belliard's 457-foot solo home run to the left-field bleachers working for him in the second inning.

Sabathia, though, yielded up a solo shot to David Ross later that inning. And in the fourth, with the Indians clinging to a 3-2 lead, Sabathia left Ross a meaty fastball right down the middle of the plate on a 3-0 count, and Ross sent it over the wall in left-center field for another solo homer to tie the game.

"I made two mistakes," Sabathia said. "I paid for my mistakes today."

The payment, though, was a mere no-decision, which isn't too steep a price on the whole.

Sabathia turned the game over to the bullpen, which was aided by Boone both at the plate and on the field.

His eighth-inning blast to right-center field came after Reds reliever David Weathers walked Jhonny Peralta. Boone was 4-for-his-previous-42 at-bats -- the kind of stat that can make a man press to perform.

"The last few weeks, I've felt better in batting practice as far as driving the ball is concerned," Boone said. "It was a matter of getting it in the game."

He got it in this game, giving the Indians a 5-3 lead.

That was a lead Boone helped preserve later in the eighth, when reliever Fausto Carmona got himself into trouble by putting runners on the corners with one out. Ross hit a hard grounder toward Boone, who had to go on one knee to catch the ball and ignite a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.

"It was big for him, first of all, to get to the ball," Wedge said, "and secondly, to turn it."

This game had the opportunity to turn for the worse for the Indians, as Friday's did. After Ben Broussard hit a pinch-hit homer in the ninth to make it 6-3, closer Bob Wickman was sent in to close it out.

Unlike Friday, though, Wickman delivered. The Reds had two on for pinch-hitting Ken Griffey Jr., but Wickman got the future Hall of Famer to strike out on a nasty slider.

"If it wasn't for me, we would have swept the series," Wickman said. "But I'm not going to make excuses. Physically, I'm fine. Mentally, I'm fine."

And so are the Indians, who endured the disaster of two of their most frustrating losses of the season and saw another veteran, Eduardo Perez, shipped elsewhere, but still managed to take four of six on the road.

"I still think this is a really good team in here," said Boone, the hero on the final day. "It's just a matter of us being consistent."

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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