No bonehead baserunning blunders this time. Tuning out

By Ken Berger Associated Press writer Published:

No bonehead baserunning blunders this time.

Tuning out boos, laughter and mean-spirited song tributes on the radio, Ramirez had three hits, including his 19th homer, two RBIs and two outstanding catches in the outfield as the Cleveland Indians beat the Detroit Tigers 12-1 Thursday night.

"I don't pay any mind to that," said Ramirez, criticized for a truly ridiculous baserunning error in the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader.

The mistake _ running back to first base and getting tagged out after an uncontested stolen base _ came three days after Ramirez lost a flyball in the sun while his sunglasses remained in his back pocket. The 25-year-old hitting phenom atoned for that error the next day, too, belting a two-run homer.

No one was happier to see Ramirez respond than Marquis Grissom, who was the first player on the bench to console him after Wednesday's baserunning error.

"He thought it was a foul ball, and I can see that," said Grissom, explaining why Ramirez started going back to first base in the 13-3 loss. "The ball hit the mitt. Hard.

"There's no need to get all out of shape. We were getting our butts kicked. It looked a lot worse than it was."

One radio station poked fun at Ramirez by dedicating a new Paul McCartney song to him _ "Young Boy," a diddy about a kid who never learns his lesson.

A few hours later, Ramirez was hearing loud cheers from the very fans who had booed him. And Ramirez could joke about his mixup.

"After my home run, I thought about going back to first base," Ramirez said with a wide smile.

Overshadowed by Ramirez's heroics was Charles Nagy, who had his best outing since allowing only two hits in seven innings in St. Louis on June 15. Nagy (12-8) allowed three hits in eight innings, recording 13 groundball outs. He didn't allow a hit from the fourth to the eighth, retiring 15 of 17. Bobby Higginson walked in the fourth, as did Brian Hunter in the sixth.

Nagy was backed by homers from Ramirez, Jim Thome, Sandy Alomar and David Justice. The AL Central-leading Indians won their first series since Aug. 1-3 at Texas, though they're still only 11-18 since Aug. 18.

Ramirez made it 3-1 with a solo homer in the fifth off Scott Sanders (4-10), then drove in a run with a single in the seventh. Thome hit his 31st homer and first since Aug. 4, and Alomar added his career-high 16th two batters later to make it 8-1.

Thome kept it going with an RBI double in the eighth, and Justice added a three-run homer, his 23rd, to complete the rout.

Before the offense got going, Ramirez atoned with his glove.

In the fourth, he snared Tony Clark's hard liner and crashed into the wall. The next inning, Ramirez made a fine running grab on Curtis Pride's shot toward the corner, the ball barely finding the webbing of his glove as he ran full tilt toward the foul line.

"He's a very talented kid," said Tigers manager Buddy Bell, who watched Ramirez's antics as a bench coach for the Indians in 1994-95. "He can do a lot of things. He's a good kid. I think Manny just loses his concentration sometimes."

Despite his faults, it's well worth having Ramirez and his .336 average in the lineup.

"I want him to get better," Grissom said. "I think he could be the best player in the league. Maybe not the best player in the league, but he could put up Frank Thomas, Ken Griffey kind of numbers."

Matt Williams and Grissom continued to show signs of emerging from slumps. Williams flied out deep to center with the bases loaded in the first, then ripped an RBI single in the third and singled and scored on Tony Fernandez's sacrifice fly in the sixth to make it 4-1.

Grissom, seemingly rejuvenated by a day off Tuesday, was 1-for-3 and hit the ball on the nose every time up except when he walked in the fourth.

Notes: The Indians played their 15,000th major league game. The only other team with that many games was their opponent, Detroit. ... Nagy is 13-4 with a 2.85 ERA in his career against the Tigers. ... Detroit third baseman Travis Fryman was a late scratch with back spasms. ... Sanders allowed four runs and eight hits in six innings in his sixth start for the Tigers after coming over from Seattle in the Omar Olivares trade. ... Williams has four homers in 217 at-bats at home and 21 homers in 230 at-bats on the road.

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