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Indians stretch winning streak to 18 with win over Orioles

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Indians stretch winning streak to 18 with win over Orioles

CLEVELAND -- Francisco Lindor broke two bats, borrowed one from a teammate, and hit a home run.

It's been like that for the Cleveland Indians of late.

The Indians stretched their franchise-record winning streak to 18 games, beating the Baltimore Orioles 3-2 Sunday night behind homers from Lindor and Roberto Perez in the sixth inning.

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Cleveland's streak is the longest in the majors since Oakland won 20 straight in 2002. The best run in baseball history belongs to the New York Giants, who had a 26-game streak in 1916, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Giants' streak included a tie, which doesn't count as a game in baseball.

Lindor's home run followed Perez's leadoff shot that snapped a 1-all tie. Cleveland's All-Star shortstop broke two bats while running the count to 3-2 against Jeremy Hellickson, then walked to the dugout looking for help. Teammate Abraham Almonte obliged.

"I had no more bats," Lindor said. "I ran out of bats. I prefer to use one that has my handle, so I just saw him and I was like, `Hey, let me use yours.'"

There was one problem, however, with the replacement. Lindor thought his chances to get a hit were slim because he uses a lighter and smaller model, but he hit the next pitch into seats in right field for his 29th homer.

Lindor turned to the dugout before leaving the batters' box and smiled at his teammate.

"I looked at the barrel and I was like `No, there's no chance.' As soon as I hit it, I just looked at him like, `This is a good bat,'" he said.

This latest win came with a drawback: Indians rookie center fielder Bradley Zimmer broke a bone in his left hand. Zimmer slid into first base trying to beat out a ground ball and got his hand stepped on. Manager Terry Francona said Zimmer will see a hand specialist this week.

The crowd of 21,259 roared in the ninth inning as Cody Allen recorded his 26th save. He struck out the first two hitters and retired Trey Mancini on a line drive to right field to end the game.

Cleveland hasn't lost since Aug. 23 and has outscored its opponents 121-32 in the streak. Cleveland has trailed in only four of 162 innings during the stretch.

The Indians are a game ahead of Houston for the league's best record and reduced their magic number to clinch the AL Central to seven. Cleveland trailed Houston by 14 games on July 22.

The New York Yankees won 19 in a row in 1947, which the Indians can match Monday against Detroit, but Francona doesn't want his players to change their approach.

"Maybe this thing gets more carried away with other people as opposed to us," he said. "We just play the game."

Trevor Bauer (16-8) allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings. The right-hander moved into a tie with Boston's Chris Sale for the league lead in wins and has won nine straight decisions.

Jose Ramirez, back in the lineup after missing three games with a sore wrist, had an RBI groundout in the first. Baltimore tied it in the sixth on Jonathan Schoop's single.

Chris Davis hit a solo homer in the seventh for Baltimore, which has lost four straight and is three games out of the wild-card race. Hellickson (3-3) allowed three runs in six innings.

"At this point, we need to win every game," Davis said. "There's a lot stacked against us, we know that, but we're still in the fight."

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Kevin Gausman changes jersey number to honor Roy Halladay

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USA Today Sports

Kevin Gausman changes jersey number to honor Roy Halladay

BALTIMORE  -- Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman will wear No. 34 next season as a tribute to Roy Halladay, who was killed in a plane crash last month.

Gausman announced the switch Thursday on his Twitter account. The right-hander wore No. 39 last year.

Gausman and Halladay are both from Colorado, and the Orioles pitcher said he followed Halladay's career closely and idolized him.

In a post next a photo of his new jersey, Gausman wrote: "Roy gave me the inspiration that I could fulfill even my biggest of dreams -- being a pitcher just like him."

Gausman concluded: "The loss of Roy is tragic and saddening, but I feel honored to have watched everything he achieved."

Halladay died on Nov. 7 when his small plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. He played 16 big league seasons, winning the Cy Young Award in each league and being named an All-Star eight times.

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Astros, Dodgers set Series HR record amid juiced ball buzz

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USA TODAY Sports

Astros, Dodgers set Series HR record amid juiced ball buzz

HOUSTON (AP) -- Home runs kept flying over the wall at Minute Maid Park, on line drives up toward the train tracks, on fly balls that just dropped over the fence.

Seven more were hit in Game 5, raising the total to a World Series record 22 -- with two possible more games to play. Twenty-five runs were scored in a game started by the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw and the Astros' Dallas Keuchel, Cy Young Award winners regarded as among baseball's best.

After a season when sluggers outpaced even their steroid-era predecessors for home runs, some are convinced that something is amiss with the baseballs.

"The main complaint is that the balls seem a little bit different in the postseason, and even from the postseason to the World Series balls," Justin Verlander said Sunday, two days before he takes the mound in Game 6 and tries to pitch the Astros to their first title. "They're a little slick. You just deal with it. But I don't think it's the case of one pitcher saying, `Hey, something is different here.' I think as a whole, everybody is saying, `Whoa, something is a little off here.'"

A record eight home runs were hit in Game 2, including five in extra innings, and Game 5's seven long balls would have tied the old mark. The 13-12, 10-inning Astros' win Sunday night was the second-highest scoring game in Series history.

Keuchel was quoted as saying after Game 2: "Obviously, the balls are juiced."

Not so obvious to everyone, even amid the power surge.

"I haven't personally noticed anything. I haven't tried to think about it either," Dodgers reliever Brandon Morrow said after giving up two homers in Game 5. "It's not something you want to put in your own head."

Same for Kershaw, even after giving up his record eighth homer of the postseason Sunday.

"I don't really pay attention to it," Kershaw said. "I just assume that both sides are dealing with it, so I'm not going to worry about it."

This year's long ball assault topped the 21 of the 2002 Series. Anaheim hit seven and Barry Bonds and his San Francisco Giants slugged 14 over seven games. That was the year before survey drug testing.

Speculation that something has changed includes a study claiming to have found differences in the size and seam height of balls since the 2015 All-Star break.

"I know there was talk about different sizes and some of the baseballs were slightly bigger and some were smaller. Some of the seams were higher, some of the seams were lower. But, no, it's been consistent," said Rich Hill, who will start Game 6 for the Dodgers. "I think that just has to do with conditions -- if it's colder it's going to be slicker. If it's a little bit warmer out or humid, I think you're going to find that you're going to have a little bit more of moisture to the baseballs."

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred insists nothing nefarious is going on.

"I'm absolutely confident that the balls that we're using are within our established specifications," he said Friday.

Verlander rejected that assertion.

"I know Mr. Manfred said the balls haven't changed, but I think there's enough information out there to say that's not true," he said.

Verlander also does not think it's an issue of how balls are rubbed up before games.

"I know baseball uses the same mud for every single ball for every single game that's played," he said. "I think there's a broader issue that we're all missing."

On the day he become commissioner in January 2015, Manfred said, "I'm cognizant in the drop in offense over the last five years, and it's become a topic of conversation in the game, and it's something that we're going to have to continue to monitor and study."

Offense started rebounding during the second half of the season, and a record 6,105 home runs were hit this year, 2.4 percent more than the previous mark of 5,963 set in 2000 at the height of the Steroids Era.

"I think it's pretty clear," Verlander said. "I think our commissioner has said publicly that they wanted more offense in the game. I'm pretty sure I'm not fabricating a quote here when I say that. I think it was already All-Star break of `15, or right before, when he said that."

San Francisco's Johnny Cueto and Toronto's Marcus Stroman also think the balls have changed, with Stroman blaming slick balls for a rise in pitcher blisters -- an affliction which has struck Hill a few times in the past couple seasons, too.

Houston's Brent Strom and the Dodgers' Rick Honeycutt, the World Series pitching coaches, both were quoted by Sports Illustrated on Sunday as saying the slickness of the ball made throwing sliders difficult.

"Everyone is entitled to their opinion," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I don't see a ton difference, but I'm not going to get in a verbal war with coaches and players who think otherwise."

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had a similar view but acknowledged the power records got his attention.

"The pitchers talk about it feels different in their hand. The one component is the slickness and guys at different ballparks rub it up differently," he said. "Sort of feels the same to me. But it's hard to argue the numbers. You know there's more velocity. Guys are swinging harder. I know in Los Angeles the air was light. It was hot. The ball was flying, carrying more than typically. But I hesitate to try to give you any insight because I really don't know."

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