Rookie allows two hits, fans seven

CLEVELAND (AP) -- His fastball is more than adequate, and Chris Young is capable of blowing it by major-league hitters. The Texas rookie's changeup, slider and curve are about average and need work.

But Young has a weapon that teams who haven't faced him can't prepare for.

"He's got something you can't teach," Rangers manager Buck Showalter said, "and that's releasing the ball at a 6-foot, 10-inch angle."

Young cut Cleveland's hitters down to size for eight shutout innings, allowing just two singles as the Rangers snapped an eight-game losing streak with a 3-0 victory Wednesday night.

Young, the tallest player in Rangers history, was too much for the Indians, who only had videotape and scouting reports to go on before seeing the 26-year-old in person. They'll have to wait until next time to try to figure out Young (10-7).

Cleveland didn't get a runner to third base off the right-hander, who walked one, struck out seven and retired 15 of the final 17 batters. Francisco Cordero worked the ninth for his 27th save.

Since a shaky start in New York on Aug. 7, Young has been using bullpen sessions to work on keeping his fastball down.

"I had one goal," he said, "to throw at their knees or lower."

The Indians, who were shut out for the fifth time at home this season, didn't do much more than flail weakly at Young's pitches.

"We had trouble picking the ball up a little," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. "He's a big guy. He's a little bit sneaky. He hides the ball and has a little hitch in his delivery."

Michael Young hit a two-run homer in the first off Cleveland's Kevin Millwood (6-10) and Phil Nevin connected for a solo shot in the fourth as the Rangers ended a nine-game road losing streak dating to July 30.

Texas improved to 11-22 since the All-Star break, a slide that has all but taken the Rangers out of playoff contention.

"We went through a tough stretch and even though we got one win, it's not over," Michael Young said. "Hopefully, this is a good start."

The Indians, meanwhile, failed to gain ground on AL wild card-leading Oakland, which lost to Baltimore. Cleveland stayed three games behind the Athletics with its fourth loss in five games and second shutout in three.

And once again, Millwood was on the wrong end of a tough loss. The right-hander's record doesn't come close to showing how well he has pitched in his first season for Cleveland. He gave up four hits, but his only two bad pitches cost him dearly.

The Indians have averaged 3.0 runs in Millwood's 22 starts and have been shut out four times in his last nine outings.

"I don't know what it is," Millwood said. "It's one of those things. There's nothing I can do about it. Whatever happens, happens. As long as I can give my team a chance to win, I've done my job."

Young allowed one hit -- Coco Crisp's two-out single in the third -- through the first six innings and retired 10 straight before
Travis Hafner led off the seventh with a single.

However, Young got Victor Martinez to fly to right, struck out Jeff Liefer and retired Ronnie Belliard on a fly to left.

Cleveland's best threat came in the first when Young put two runners on without giving up a hit. He plunked Jhonny Peralta in the upper leg with two outs and walked Hafner before striking out Martinez.

"He was throwing his fastball and changeup," Cleveland's Casey Blake said. "He was using two pitches and he pitched a two-hitter. I hate to make excuses, but I think if you asked everyone in here, we all got one or two pitches to hit, but we didn't do anything
with them."

Millwood found himself in a familiar hole in the first. After walking leadoff hitter David Dellucci, he hung a 3-1 pitch to Young, whose 18th homer put the Rangers ahead 2-0.

Nevin hit his second homer since coming to Texas in a July 30 trade from San Diego in the second to make it 3-0.

Game notes
Young is the eighth Texas rookie to win 10 games in a season. ... The Rangers have 199 homers. ... The Indians have lost five of six at home. ... On Tuesday night, Rangers second baseman Alfonso Soriano batted cleanup for the first time in 759 career games. The only other time he appeared on a lineup card in the No. 4 hole was when he pinch-ran for the Yankees in 1999 against Tampa Bay. Soriano's hitting streak was stopped at 15. ... The Indians'
64-55 record after 119 games was better than the club's mark in 2000 (63-56) when their lineup featured All-Stars Kenny Lofton,
Roberto Alomar Jr., Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome. ... Rangers outfielder Kevin Mench was a late scratch from the starting lineup with back spasms. He was replaced by Mark DeRosa.