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The Buffalo Bisons lost their top starting pitcher Sunday when right-hander Jason Phillips had his contract purchased by the parent Cleveland Indians.

Phillips was scheduled to be the starter in today's 10:30 a.m. School Day game against the Indianapolis Indians (Radio 1520 AM). He will be replaced by Jamie Brown (3-1), who had originally been pushed back a day in the rotation because Cleveland's Jason Bere pitched here in a rehab assignment start Saturday night.

Phillips was 6-0 with a 2.70 earned run average in seven appearances for Buffalo this season. He was tied for the International League lead in victories with Toledo's Shane Loux and was eighth in ERA. Opponents were batting just .222 against him.

"He was a little apprehensive about letting things go at the start of the season," manager Marty Brown said of Phillips, who underwent elbow surgery last September. "He didn't have a real good feel for his curveball but as time went on and the weather got a little bit better, he got a better feel. He stuck with it and health-wise, he's been fine."

To make room for Phillips, the Indians designated reliever Jerrod Riggan for assignment. Riggan allowed four runs on seven hits in two outings for Cleveland, posting a 9.00 ERA. He was much better, however, in Buffalo (2-1, 2.20 in nine games).

To return to the Herd, Riggan must first clear waivers and then accept another Triple-A assignment. He could opt for free agency.

With Bere and Phillips gone, the Bisons have an opening in their rotation for this weekend's series against Richmond and it could be filled by rookie right-hander Jeremy Guthrie. Cleveland's No. 1 draft pick from last June has been tearing up the Double-A Eastern League.

Guthrie is 5-2 with a 1.56 ERA in nine starts for the Akron Aeros, including two complete-game shutouts. In 57 2/3 innings, he has struck out 32, walked only 10 and not allowed a home run.

Guthrie, who starred last year at Stanford University, is 24 years old but is in his first professional season because he spent two years (1999 and 2000) on a Mormon mission in Spain. He is second in the Eastern League in both wins and ERA.

Guthrie had his worst outing of the year, however, in Sunday's 6-2 loss at New Haven as he allowed four runs in six innings. If Guthrie doesn't get the call, the only option on the Buffalo roster would be left-hander Lance Caraccioli (1-2, 6.62), a career starter who has worked exclusively this year in relief.

"I like the role Lance has been in," Brown said. "He's getting innings and getting work. Whether it's Jeremy Guthrie or whoever they might bring in to throw in there, Lance is an option as well."

Cleveland first baseman Travis Hafner went 2 for 3 with a walk in the second game of his injury rehab stint with the Herd. He was the designated hitter for the second straight game, already becoming the 10th player to serve as Buffalo's DH this season.


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