CLEVELAND (AP) — Grady Sizemore homered in his return for Cleveland after undergoing major knee surgery last year, leading the off-and-running Indians to a 4-2 win Sunday and series sweep of the Baltimore Orioles, who dropped their seventh straight.
Sizemore, Cleveland’s hustling All-Star center fielder and leadoff man, hadn’t played since last May, when he was forced to have microfracture surgery on his left knee.
He homered in his second at-bat off Brad Bergeson (0-2) and doubled in the fifth.
Carlos Santana and Travis Hafner also homered for the first-place Indians, who have won seven in a row at home and 11 of 13. Fausto Carmona (1-2) worked seven strong innings, allowing one earned run and five hits. Chris Perez pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his fifth save.
Brian Roberts went 3 for 4 for the Orioles, who have lost eight of 10, effectively erasing their 4-0 start.
This was the day Sizemore had been building toward for months. He hoped to be back in time for opening day, but wasn’t quite ready when the Indians broke training camp. He started the season on the disabled list and playing in the minors.
“I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time,” Sizemore said before the game. “It’s finally here.”
He was given a standing ovation when he came up in the first by Cleveland fans, many of whom have been diligently tracking the popular player’s progress for months. Sizemore grounded out to second, but busted down the first-base line like always before being thrown out.
In the third, Sizemore didn’t have to run as hard.
He drove a 2-0 pitch from Bergeson over the wall in right for his first homer since Aug. 27, 2009, at Baltimore, giving the Indians a 2-0 lead. Sizemore doubled into the right-field corner in the fifth, coasting into second base without having to slide.
Sizemore only had to field one fly ball in tricky winds that gusted all afternoon through Progressive Field, making everything hit in the air an adventure.
Hafner hit his fourth homer with one out in the sixth, giving Cleveland a 4-1 lead. Hafner didn’t connect for his fourth homer last season until May 22, in Cleveland’s 41st game.
The Orioles, who have scored just 17 runs in their seven-game slide, had runners at the corners with one out in the seventh but scored just once. After getting Luke Scott to line to left for a sacrifice fly, Carmona retired the next two batters on ground balls to short.
Baltimore also blew a chance to have a big inning in the fourth. The Orioles put two on with none out and had the meat of their order coming up, but Carmona got Derrek Lee to bounce into a double play and struck out Vladimir Guerrero.
Santana snapped an 0-for-23 slump with his leadoff homer in the second. The switch-hitting catcher, who was given a day off Friday, drove a 3-2 pitch from Bergeson over the wall in right-center for his second homer and first since opening day.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)