The Cleveland Indians are hoping that Chuck Finley was giving them a glimpse of October.
Hampered by injuries all season, Finley had one of his best outings of the year Thursday night in Cleveland's 6-4 win over the Boston Red Sox. The veteran left-hander gave up two runs and four hits in 6 1-3 innings.
"It would be easy for me to get frustrated with the fact I haven't been doing well this season," Finley said. "But I can make up for it in the last month and get in the playoffs and do some good. I look ahead, not at what's behind me."
After increasing Cleveland's lead in the AL Central to a season-high seven games over Minnesota, what lies ahead for Finley (6-6) and the slugging Indians is almost certainly a first-round playoff series against the Seattle Mariners or Oakland A's.
Cleveland would be a big underdog against either team because its pitching doesn't figure to match up.
The Indians are 10th in the AL with a 4.72 team ERA. Seattle and Oakland rank first and second, respectively.
But if the 38-year-old Finley returns to form, that helps even things up a bit. The Indians hope he can round out their postseason rotation behind impressive rookie C.C. Sabathia and hard-throwing right-hander Bartolo Colon.
Finley was coming off a two-inning outing Aug. 25 against Seattle in which he strained his right oblique muscle.
He had offseason arthroscopic knee surgery Jan. 9 and was put on the 15-day disabled list for the second time this year on June 29 with spasms in his neck and left shoulder.
But Thursday night, Finley faced the minimum number of batters through five innings and left after throwing 78 pitches.
Another good sign for the Indians was the performance of John Rocker, who pitched a perfect ninth for his third save in six chances and first since June 26 — less than a week after Cleveland got him in a trade with Atlanta.
Regular closer Bob Wickman is day-to-day with a ribcage injury.
The Red Sox, who have lost 10 of 11, dropped 10 games behind the New York Yankees in the AL East and 10 back of Oakland in the wild card race.
RANGERS 4, TWINS 3: Alex Rodriguez hit his 42nd home run to match his own AL record for shortstops as host Texas beat Minnesota.
Rodriguez's two-out solo shot off Brad Radke (12-9) broke a 3-all tie in the fifth inning, equaling Rodriguez's career high set in 1998 and 1999 with Seattle. The Twins are 18-35 since the All-Star break.
Rick Helling (11-9) gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings to win for the sixth time in seven decisions.
Jeff Zimmerman got four outs for his 24th save in 27 chances to help the Rangers win for the ninth time in 11 games.
ANGELS 7, ROYALS 6: Bengie Molina singled off Roberto Hernandez (4-5) with two outs in the 10th inning to drive in the winning run after host Anaheim blew a five-run lead.
Carlos Beltran hit a three-run homer off Troy Percival with two outs in the ninth to tie it at 6. Beltran went 4-for-4 with four RBIs and two runs scored.
Tim Salmon hit a pair of two-run homers for the Angels.
TIGERS 6, WHITE SOX 2: Jose Macias hit a leadoff homer and an RBI double, and Jeff Weaver (11-14) allowed four hits in seven innings for his first win in 5 1/2 weeks.
The visiting Tigers, who dropped 13 of their previous 14 against the White Sox, avoided their first four-game sweep by Chicago in five years. Detroit also broke a five-game losing streak overall. The White Sox had won 12 of 16.