Before Wednesday's game in Pittsburgh, Hargrove held a

Associated Press Published:

Before Wednesday's game in Pittsburgh, Hargrove held a closed-door meeting with players to discuss some mental lapses that hurt the Indians in a loss Tuesday night to the Pirates. Hargrove wants to make sure his team is sharp for the stretch drive.

"It was just a meeting," Hargrove said. "I don't want to talk about it."

"Mike was not angry with us in the meeting before the game," said Omar Vizquel, who was tagged out Tuesday night after failing to touch home plate.

"He said he wanted us to cut down on our mental mistakes. It was just a reminder."

Hargrove said winning the final game against Pittsburgh, 7-3, showed the club could bounce back after a lackluster performance.

"I don't know if it is because people are getting tired or what. These mental mistakes are something that was drawn to their attention and they responded well," Hargrove said.

The Indians and White Sox will meet in a three-game weekend series that could help determine whether Chicago or the Milwaukee Brewers will be able to close the gap.

The Indians, with a 72-63 record, lead Milwaukee (70-68) by 3 1/2 games. The White Sox (69-70) are another 1 1/2 games back in third place. All three clubs had Thursday off.

The Indians are off their pace from 1995, when they won 100 games, and last season, when they won 99. Belle led the team in home runs and RBIs both years and then bolted for Chicago for a five-year, $55 million deal.

Belle's departure caused an uproar in Cleveland, where the talk on sports radio this week was whether Jacobs Field would put the left field home run porch off-limits again as a security measure.

Belle complained in June during a three-game series in Cleveland that he was pelted by fans who threw radio batteries. Putting the area off-limits kept fans further from Belle's left field position.

Third-baseman Matt Williams, who was tabbed as Belle's replacement before the season, will take a career-high 20-game hitting streak into Friday night's game.

"The streak is not a big deal," he said. "I just want to make good contact whenever I get to the plate. In the first game we played here (in Pittsburgh), a ball I hit went three feet to the right of the shortstop for a base hit. Three feet the other way, and the streak is over."

Williams has out-homered Belle 29 to 27 this season.

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