They won three of four in Oakland. They

By Tom Withers Associated Press Published:

They won three of four in Oakland.

They stopped Ichiro Suzuki's 21-game hitting streak and Seattle's five-game winning streak.

And, they nearly fought the Mariners over a pair of diamond-studded earrings while Cleveland manager Charlie Manuel watched on TV from his hospital bed.

Strange doesn't come close to describing the Indians' seven-game trip to the West Coast.

"It was unreal," said Manuel, who spent Saturday night in a Seattle hospital with a blocked colon. "There was never a dull moment."

And maybe never a road trip quite like this one.

But despite some adversity _ pitcher Charlie Nagy was placed on the DL for the season and Chuck Finley and Juan Gonzalez got hurt _ the Indians went 4-3 on the trip and came home with their 4 1/2-game lead over the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central intact.

"We did it against good teams," said closer Bob Wickman, who somehow wiggled out of a ninth-inning mess in Sunday's 4-3 win over the Mariners. "We went 4-3, but it may be the best trip I've been on because of the good pitching we faced.

"And the most important thing is that we didn't lose any ground in the standings."

The Indians, still struggling offensively, got a much-needed day off on Monday. It gave them a chance to rest and recuperate before opening a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox tonight and heading into the regular season's final month.

Manuel needed the downtime most.

The 57-year-old, who had two surgeries on his colon last season, had to be hospitalized on Saturday in Seattle to have his stomach flushed and a blockage dissolved.

He was taken to the emergency room at Swedish Hospital early that morning and spent the night in the hospital before being released in time for Sunday's game.

Manuel said doctors told him that scar tissue from last year's procedures caused the block.

"They said it could happen again, or it might never happen again," Manuel said. "They didn't give me a diet. I already know what I'm supposed to eat and not eat."

While Manuel was in the hospital, the Indians and Mariners squabbled over Seattle reliever Arthur Rhodes' diamond earrings like a couple of sorority sisters dressing for a formal.

During Saturday's game, Cleveland shortstop Omar Vizquel complained that Rhodes' jewelry was distracting him at the plate and asked the umpires to have Rhodes remove them.

Some finger-pointing and trash talking led to both benches clearing briefly and Rhodes getting ejected. On Sunday, Rhodes was told to take out his earrings before he entered the game.

"It was like I was looking into the headlight of a train," Vizquel said.

Before their road trip, the Indians were looking at their upcoming schedule the same way.

But despite hitting just .205 as a team and averaging fewer than three runs per game, Cleveland has gone 5-5 in its last 10 games while staying a safe distance ahead of the second-place Twins.

The Indians still don't have consistent starting pitching, and left-hander Chuck Finley will likely miss his next scheduled start on Friday in Chicago with a strained rib cage.

Teams can expand their rosters to 40 on Saturday, so Manuel said Finley will not go on the disabled list.

"He might be able to go in six-or-eight days," Manuel said.

Gonzalez reinjured his left hamstring on Saturday but is expected to

play against the Red Sox.

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