CLEVELAND (AP) If Josh Tomlin was in awe of Alex Rodriguez and the mighty New York Yankees, he didn’t show it.
Tomlin took a shutout into the eighth inning against A-Rod and the rest of New York’s potent lineup to win his major league debut with the Cleveland Indians, 4-1 on Tuesday night.
“That was an outstanding effort by the kid,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “He was very poised. He pounded the strike zone. He’s the poster boy for what we want – pitchers throwing strikes.”
Getting one more chance at hitting his 600th homer with two runners on and two outs in the ninth, Rodriguez grounded into a forceout to shortstop to end the game. He went 0 for 4 on his 35th birthday.
“That would have been a fantastic present, but it didn’t work out” Rodriguez said. “I’ve had some good birthdays. Today wasn’t the greatest.”
It was a memorable day for Tomlin (1-0). The 25-year-old outpitched former Indians ace CC Sabathia (13-4), handing the left-hander his first loss in 12 starts since May 23.
With camera flashes popping in the seventh, Rodriguez brought the crowd of 27,416 to its feet with two outs and Nick Swisher on third base. The Yankees star hit a 1-2 pitch from Tomlin to right-center, but the ball fell just short of the warning track and was easily caught.
“I thought I hit it a little better than it showed,” said Rodriguez, 0 for 8 in two games against Cleveland and 5 for 20 in five games since hitting No. 599 on Thursday.
“A few times over the last three or four days, I’ve tried to swing a little too hard or maybe get a little pull happy,” Rodriguez said.
He grounded out weakly his first two times up against Tomlin.
“I didn’t think we had any good swings on him,” Rodriguez said. “The kid threw really well.”
Tomlin wasn’t even on Cleveland’s 40-man roster to start the day, but baffled the team with the majors’ best record. He did it with an array of cutters, curves, changeups and a sneaky fastball.
“I tried to slow myself down,” Tomlin said. “I was pretty excited when I thought about my first pitch. It was to Derek Jeter. I almost hit him. I guess I was a little nervous.”
Tomlin said facing Rodriguez gave him an extra boost.
“Seeing all the cameras and lights flashing gave me an adrenalin rush,” Tomlin said. “I was able to make some good pitches to him.”
The right-hander gave up one run on three hits after having his contract purchased from Triple-A Columbus, where he had an 8-4 record and 2.68 ERA. He struck out two and walked none, leaving after allowing Robinson Cano’s leadoff double in the eighth.
Cano scored on a one-out groundout by pinch-hitter Colin Curtis against reliever Joe Smith.
Chris Perez worked the ninth for his 10th save in 13 chances. With runners on first and third, he fanned Nick Swisher, retired Mark Teixeira on a popout and finished it off by getting Rodriguez, too.
“I was thinking: ‘Don’t give it up. Don’t let number 600 be a big one like that,’ ” Perez said.
Shin-Soo Choo had three hits and Matt LaPorta two RBIs for Cleveland.
LaPorta was the key player acquired in the four-for-one deal that sent Sabathia to Milwaukee in July 2008 when it became apparent the 2007 AL Cy Young winner was going to leave Cleveland as a free agent after that season.
Sabathia went 11-2 to pitch the Brewers into the playoffs, then signed a seven-year, $161 million deal with New York.
The left-hander gave up nine hits and four runs over seven innings. He was 9-0 with a 2.22 ERA over his previous 11 starts.
“I didn’t think about facing Sabathia,” LaPorta said. “I was so fired up for Tomlin. The atmosphere was electric. It was fun. And he was great.”
Yankees catcher Jorge Posada was a gametime scratch because of left knee soreness.
Posada was replaced by Francisco Cervelli, whose defense kept Cleveland from scoring in the first.
With Choo on second, Austin Kearns singled between third and short. Left fielder Brett Gardner made a strong throw to Cervelli, who blocked the plate so well that the sliding Choo never got there.
Errors by Cervelli and second baseman Robinson Cano gave Cleveland a 2-0 lead in the fourth.
LaPorta’s sac fly made it 2-0. He added an RBI double and Chris Gimenez had a bases-loaded walk to make it 4-0 in the sixth.
Tomlin started in the rotation spot opened when left-hander Aaron Laffey was placed on the disabled list Friday with shoulder fatigue. A 19th-round pick out of Texas Tech in 2006, he went 51-24 with a 3.20 ERA in the minor leagues.
NOTES: Yankees RHP Alfredo Aceves, out since May 12 with a strained lower back, threw a bullpen session. … Indians RHP Kerry Wood, out since July 11 with a blistered right index finger, also threw in the bullpen. Acta said he will wait until seeing how Wood feels Wednesday before the team decides future plans.