CLEVELAND -- They were pesky, annoying and timely. They buzzed around the basepaths and bothered the New York Yankees.
And Cleveland's famous flying midges were nowhere to be found.
The Indians bugged the Yankees all by themselves.
Jhonny Peralta hit a three-run homer off Andy Pettitte in the fifth inning, and the Indians won their fourth straight Friday night, beating New York 6-4 in the Yankees' first visit since last year's AL playoffs when they were bombarded by swarming bugs.
Peralta's big shot off Pettitte (3-2) put the Indians ahead 4-3, and Franklin Gutierrez followed with a homer off the lefty.
Peralta had four RBI and Jamey Carroll had a run-scoring single and stole two bases for the Indians, who scored all their runs with two outs.
"This should give us confidence," Paul Byrd said. "It was 3-1 late in the game with two outs and we did little nit-picky things: a walk, a chopper, a base hit and we made something happen. That's what we did so well last year. It's the little things, the pesky walks, the getting guys over that makes things happen.
"We're hoping this continues."
Byrd (3-1) went 5 2/3 innings, reliever Rafael Perez blanked the Yankees for 2 1/3 and interim closer Rafael Betancourt worked a perfect ninth for his second save in two nights. He's filling in while Joe Borowski, last year's saves leader, rests a strained right triceps.
Jason Giambi homered twice and Hideki Matsui connected for the Yankees, whose previous trip to Cleveland ended with an unforgettable loss that began a chain of events leading to the end of manager Joe Torre's era in New York.
On an uncommonly warm Oct. 5 night, a swarm of midges off Lake Erie descended upon Cleveland's infield and seemed to enjoy feasting on then-rookie Yankees right-hander Joba Chamberlain during the eighth inning of Game 2.
Chamberlain's face and neck were covered with the tiny, flying critters, who bothered him so much that he uncorked two wild pitches, including one that allowed the Indians to tie a game they eventually won 2-1 in 11 innings.
The victory gave Cleveland a 2-0 lead in the best-of-5 series, which they won in four. Torre was criticized for not taking his team off the field as the insects invaded and ended up turning down a one-year offer from owner George Steinbrenner before taking over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Yankees know what pests the Indians are.
"They can put runs on the board just as fast as we can," Giambi said. "They got guys up and down the lineup that can put balls in the seats."
Byrd, who got the win when the Indians eliminated the Yankees in Game 4 at New York, allowed four runs and six hits. The right-hander gave up all three homers, but he didn't walk a batter and had his third straight strong outing.
Afterward, he didn't feel worthy of an interview.
"You guys have no business being here right now," Byrd politely told reporters. "I just pitched OK. Rafael Perez was the man."
Alex Rodriguez returned to New York's lineup and went 0-for-4. He missed three games with a strained quadriceps, and said it's still tender.
"I felt it all game," A-Rod said. "The big thing is on takeoffs. If I hit a ball on the ground, I've got to take it easy rather than try to beat it out and miss a month. But I feel OK. I'm going to be fine."
Down 3-1, the Indians scored four times with two outs in the fifth off a tiring Pettitte.
Travis Hafner singled to left and Victor Martinez followed with a base hit. Peralta, who came in batting just .184 (7-for-38) in his past 11 games, drove a 3-1 pitch over the 19-foot-high wall in left to make it 4-3. Gutierrez followed with his second homer -- and first since his first at-bat this season -- for a 5-3 lead.
"I ran out of gas," Pettitte said. "I hit a wall there. It's extremely disappointing to have the lead and give it up. With two outs all night, they really made me work extremely hard and just wore me down."
Matsui brought the Yankees within a run in the sixth with his fourth homer, chasing Byrd. Perez came on and handled the Yankees with ease.
Giambi's second homer off Byrd gave the Yankees a 3-1 lead in the fourth. With Jorge Posada on, Giambi hit an estimated 455-foot drive into the right-field bleachers. Giambi has 36 multihomer games and his swing seems suited for Cleveland. He has homered in five straight games here and in seven of his past eight.
- The Indians snapped an eight-game losing streak in the regular season to New York.
- The Yankees will end their opening-month road odyssey in Cleveland. Barring any changes in the next few days, the club will play 18 road games in April, the most for any team in the month. New York is also in a stretch of playing 18 of 20 on the road, the longest such stretch for the Yankees since 1958.
- Indians 1B Ryan Garko, in an 0-for-12 slide, got his first off day this season. 2B Asdrubal Cabrera also sat after playing both games of a doubleheader on Thursday.
- With the Indians starting lefties the next three days, New York is expected to recall INF/OF Shelley Duncan, a right-handed hitter, on Saturday.