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INDIANS FINISH OFF RED SOX

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Seattle stays alive with 7-4 victory over the Yankees. See Page D2.

The Cleveland Indians knocked the Boston Red Sox out of the playoffs as decisively as they dominated the regular season.Cleveland wrapped up the first postseason sweep in its 95-year history with an 8-2 victory Friday night, sending the Red Sox to their major-league record 13th consecutive postseason loss.

"I've never been in this position, so I don't know how I'm supposed to feel," Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove said. "I look forward to the next step."

The Indians, who won 100 games in the regular season, will face the winner of the New York-Seattle series, starting Tuesday, as they aim for their first World Series in 41 years.

For the Red Sox, a season that was so much better than expected ended like so many others. For the 77th straight year, no championship flag will fly over FenwayPark.

Boston sluggers Mo Vaughn and Jose Canseco ended the series without a hit as Vaughn went 0-for-14 with seven strikeouts and Canseco 0-for-13 in the three games.

"I can't say that I'm sorry that he (Vaughn) didn't get a hit," Hargrove said, "but people like Mo Vaughn deserve better."

"Their pitching is the key," Boston manager Kevin Kennedy said. "I think that's where it starts. The lineup, I respect a lot (but) I'm a big believer in pitching."

Charles Nagy scattered four hits in seven innings, while Boston's Tim Wakefield, the AL's best pitcher until mid-August, couldn't shake his late-season slump as he allowed seven runs in 5 1-3 innings.

Jim Thome started Cleveland's attack with a two-run homer in the second and the Indians put the game away with a five-run sixth when they drove the wild Wakefield from the game.

After losing the first two games despite good performances by starters Roger Clemens and Erik Hanson, the Red Sox pinned their hopes on Wakefield, who was 2-7 in his last 10 starts after a 14-1 start.

The knuckleballer, who had two complete-game wins for Pittsburgh in the 1992 NL Championship Series, pitched a perfect first inning, then walked four in the next two innings as Cleveland took a 3-0 lead on a cool night with the wind blowing in.

His teammates weren't giving him much help as they stranded two men in four of the first five innings and 12 overall.

Widely picked to finish fourth in the AL East, the Red Sox led the division since May 14. But they were no match for a team that won the AL Central by a whopping 30 games, the biggest margin in league history.

The Indians took a 2-0 lead in the second on a walk to Eddie Murray and the homer down the right-field line by Thome, whose two regular-season hits against Wakefield were a homer and double.

They made it 3-0 in the third when Carlos Baerga singled and Wakefield walked the next three batters. But Manny Ramirez swung at the first pitch and popped out, ending the rally.

Boston put runners at second and third with one out in the third on a walk to Dwayne Hosey and a double by John Valentin. But the big hitters failed again as Vaughn struck out and Canseco lined out.

Boston cut the lead to 3-1 in the fourth on one-out singles by Reggie Jefferson, Tim Naehring and Luis Alicea and Mike Macfarlane's sacrifice fly. Hosey then ripped a sharp grounder down the first base line, but Paul Sorrento made a diving stop and threw to Nagy for the third out.

"Had that ball gotten through, probably two more runs would have scored and tied the game up," Hargrove said. "I think the ouctome of the game really hinged on that play."

In the sixth, the Indians staged their biggest inning of the series. With two outs, Sorrento singled in a run and Sandy Alomar doubled home another. Rheal Cormier relieved Wakefield and gave up a two-run single to Omar Vizquel and an RBI double to Baerga.

Nagy had six strikeouts and five walks and left runners in scoring position in five of his seven innings. Julian Tavarez pitched the eighth innings, allowing a run on Willie McGee's RBI grounder, and Paul Assenmacher finished up.

Cleveland's last postseason victory before this year came 47 years ago when they won the World Series with a sixth-game victory over the Boston Braves. They were then swept by the New York Giants in four games in the 1954 World Series.