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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 11:57 a.m., Sunday, September 30, 2007

Baseball: Hafner drives in two, Indians beat Royals

Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Travis Hafner tuned up for the playoffs with another big day at the plate.

Hafner drove in two runs to reach 100 RBIs for the fourth straight year and the Cleveland Indians beat the Kansas City Royals 4-2 today in the final game of the regular season.

The Indians, who won the AL Central, will start C.C. Sabathia in Game 1 of their division series against the New York Yankees on Thursday. The Yankees, who were 6-0 against the Indians this year, will counter with Chien-Ming Wang.

Hafner, who spent a big part of the season in a slump and hit only .228 in May and .218 in June, is batting .373 in his last 17 games with three homers and 13 RBIs.

Play was halted for more than 10 minutes in the top of the ninth when a sharply hit grounder bounced up and struck Kansas City third baseman Alex Gordon in the face. Gordon's nose started bleeding but he was able to walk off the field under his own power holding a towel to his face.

It was the final game for Royals manager Buddy Bell, who announced in August that he would step down to spend more time with his family. He finished his time in Kansas City with a 174-262 record.

Bell, one of only three major league managers with an overall record that is 200 games below .500, has said he might like to manage again.

It also may have been the last game for Kansas City's Mike Sweeney, the veteran first baseman whose contract has expired.

The Royals ended the season on a down note, going 9-19 in September and finishing last in the AL Central for the fourth straight year. But at 69-93, they did avoid 100 losses for the first time since 2003.

Aaron Laffey (4-2), who is not included in the Indians' four-man playoff rotation, went five innings to get the win, giving up four hits and one run.

Joe Borowski pitched the ninth for his AL-leading 45th save in 53 chances.

Hafner put Cleveland in front 2-0 with a two-run double in the third off Luke Hochevar (0-1), the top overall pick in the 2006 draft who was making his first major league start. The Indians took a 3-0 lead in the fourth on Chris Gomez's run-scoring groundout.

Hochevar, who had three relief appearances this month, gave up two runs and three hits in three innings.

Joey Gathright and Tony Pena Jr. each drove in a run for Kansas City.