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Garko trying to make most of chance

Garko trying to make most of chance

CHICAGO -- If it's any consolation, Ryan Garko feels better about his current 2-for-24 funk, which he'll take into Wednesday's series finale with the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field, than he did about his 0-for-25 skid in late April.

And not just because this stretch includes the two hits.

"It's different this time," Garko said. "Ever since we were out in Los Angeles [on June 20-22], I feel like the majority of the balls I've hit have been hard-hit balls. I can't control whether it's caught."

But it's impossible to ignore that Garko has had plenty of balls caught this year. After belting 21 homers last year, he's really struggled in the power department in '08. He has just six home runs and a slugging percentage of .349 after posting a slugging percentage of .483 last season. He has just 15 extra-base hits.

In short, Garko isn't exactly putting up numbers that scream "everyday first baseman."

"I'm confident in my approach and what I've been doing," he said. "I'm the same guy as before. My numbers are just a little different."

Garko's numbers are even more glaring when one considers the absence of Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez from the middle of the lineup.

It had been manager Eric Wedge's hope that Garko would seize the opportunity to shore up the heart of the order, but that's not the way it worked out. Last week, Garko was demoted to the lower-third of the lineup, as it was Wedge's hope that the lessened pressure would help Garko cure what's ailing him.

That hasn't happened yet, and Garko doesn't seem to think his spot in the order has any bearing on his performance.

"You get pitched the same no matter where you're at," he said.

But Garko hasn't been the same hitter he once was, and that's one of many problems plaguing the Indians at the plate this season.

Pitching matchup
CLE: LHP C.C. Sabathia (6-8, 3.78 ERA)
Sabathia continued his hot streak since late April with another strong start. His latest victim, the Reds on Friday, managed just four hits while striking out 11 times over eight innings. The big left-hander was nearly unhittable after the second inning, retiring 15 batters in a row at one point. He's had mixed results against the White Sox this season, though, allowing five runs in 5 1/3 innings of work in an Opening Day no-decision. He pitched much better the second time around, but this time picked up the loss after a seven-inning, two-run effort. Lifetime against the White Sox, Sabathia has been much better, as he carries a 14-4 record and 3.61 ERA in 25 starts.

CWS: RHP Jose Contreras (7-6, 3.99 ERA)
Contreras gave up three runs in six-plus innings in his second start against the Cubs on Friday. The performance was good enough for the right-hander to pick up his seventh win, though manager Ozzie Guillen knew how much his pitcher struggled throughout the start. The win snapped a three-game losing streak during which he'd allowed 18 runs in 16 innings. His ERA has gone from a season-low 2.76 before the losing streak to just under four. Contreras has faced Cleveland once this year, giving up just one run over six innings at U.S. Cellular Field on May 20.

Tidbits
The Indians are a season-high 11 1/2 games out of first place in the American League Central. ... The Tribe is now 3-5 in extra-inning games. ... The Indians have scored three runs or less in nine of their last 16 games. ... The Tribe is 13-19 against the AL Central. ... Kelly Shoppach has a 10-game hitting streak, during which he's hit .353 (12-for-34). ... Casey Blake has an eight-game hitting streak during which he's hit .464 (13-for-28).

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• STO-HD

On radio
• WTAM 1100

Up next
• Thursday: Off-day
• Friday: Indians (Paul Byrd, 3-9, 5.26) at Twins (Livan Hernandez, 8-5, 5.22), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Indians (Aaron Laffey, 4-5, 3.24) at Twins (Kevin Slowey, 5-6, 3.47), 7:10 p.m. ET

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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