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Francisco continues to own Sonnanstine

Francisco gets better of Sonnanstine, again

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CLEVELAND -- If there's any justice in the world, Indians outfielder Ben Francisco will take Rays right-hander Andy Sonnanstine out for a nice steak dinner.

Or maybe offer to do his laundry.

Heck, anything to repay Sonnanstine for the stat-padders he's provided Francisco with over the last couple years.

What Francisco has done to Sonnanstine classifies as cruel and unusual. It's cruel in that Francisco is 8-for-9 with a double, five homers, a walk and 12 RBIs in 10 career plate appearances against Sonnanstine. And it's unusual in that four of those homers came in consecutive plate appearances -- from July 10, 2008, to the second inning of Tuesday's game at Progressive Field, where Francisco cranked out a three-run shot in the Tribe's eventual 12-7 win over Sonnanstine and the Rays.

"It's just baseball," Francisco said with a shrug. "Some guys you have success against, some guys you don't. I try not to think about it. Every at-bat's different, and hitting's never easy."

But Francisco sure makes it look easy against Sonnanstine.

"He's hitting everything I'm throwing right now," Sonnanstine said. "I have to figure out a way to get him out."

According to retrosheet.org, Francisco's four homers in four plate appearances against a single pitcher fell one short of a Major League record. That record is held by the Dodgers' Frank Howard, who ripped a homer in five straight plate appearances against Bob Hendley of the Milwaukee Braves and San Francisco Giants between 1963 and '64.

But if you feel bad for Francisco for falling one homer shy of that record, don't. His bid to match the mark fell short on an RBI single in the third inning Tuesday. So even if Francisco was unsuccessful on one front, he was quite successful on another.

Some things in this game simply can't be explained, and Francisco's favorable feats against Sonnanstine fall into that category. Francisco didn't seem to want to talk about the matchup, for fear of jinxing it. But it's safe to say this is a right-on-right matchup that has gone all wrong for Sonnanstine.

"I'm sure he never wants to see [Francisco] again," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He's definitely not on his Christmas card list."

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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