Burba, demoted to the bullpen earlier this month,

By Tom Withers Associated Press Published:

Burba, demoted to the bullpen earlier this month, pitched seven strong innings Tuesday for his first win since July 19, leading the Cleveland Indians to an 8-3 win over the Boston Red Sox.

After two "disastrous" months on the mound, six starts and eight appearances, Burba finally won again.

"I almost forgot what it feels like," he said. "It's been a long time."

Burba (10-8) allowed four singles and walked in a run in his best start since June. He walked two and hit two, but got the big outs when he needed them.

"For the past two months I didn't know if I was going to throw a strike or if I was going to be backing up bases after I threw a pitch," said Burba, who has won at least 15 games in each of three seasons with Cleveland. "Hopefully I can carry this through the rest of the regular season."

The Indians sure hope so.

"It's great to see after what he's been through," said acting manager Grady Little, who is filling in for Charlie Manuel.

Kenny Lofton hit a two-run homer for Cleveland, which played without Manuel for the second time in three games.

Manuel underwent abdominal surgery Tuesday to have scar tissue removed from his colon. The 57-year-old manager is expected to remain hospitalized for a few days and isn't expected to rejoin the Indians until next week.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox are nervously awaiting results of an MRI taken Tuesday on All-Star shortstop Nomar Garciaparra's right wrist.

Garciaparra, who had surgery in April, flew back to Boston to have the procedure after experiencing soreness over the weekend while the club was in Texas.

The two-time defending AL batting champion missed the first 103 games this season following surgery to repair a split tendon. Garciaparra is staying in Boston until the results are conclusive.

Omar Vizquel and Roberto Alomar had two RBI apiece against David Cone (8-3) for Cleveland, which opened a 5 1/2-game lead over second-place Minnesota in the AL Central.

Vizquel also made a sensational play in the fifth inning, diving behind second base to stop Carl Everett's liner before bouncing to his feet and making a throw to first.

"I almost got my head taken off and I turned around and there was Omar making the play," Burba said.

The only negative for the Indians was Rocker, who had another shaky outing.

Brought in to close out an 8-1 game in the eighth, Rocker struck out two, walked three and threw two wild pitches in a span of five batters.

Of his 27 pitches, 16 were for balls. He was booed by some fans and cheered by others when Little came out and mercifully took the ball away from him.

Rocker slammed the ball into Little's hand before walking to the dugout.

"I've never been to the mound to take a guy out when he wasn't upset," Little said. "I don't want to see a guy who is glad to be taken out."

Little, though, repeated GM John Hart's earlier claim that the Indians would keep pitching Rocker until he works through his latest rut.

"He's having a tough time, but we've got to find a way to get him out of it," Little said. "We'll keep putting him out there, and eventually he'll get straightened out."

Notes: Manny Ramirez, making his second trip back to Cleveland, had

large pieces of athletic tape on both earlobes to cover a new pair of

earrings. He pointed toward the Indians' dugout and joked with Vizquel,

whose request to have Mariners reliever Arthur Rhodes remove his diamond-

studded earrings nearly started a brawl last weekend. ... Burba has

reached double digits in wins for six straight seasons.

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