Indians can’t shake their losing ways
CLEVELAND (AP) – When Jered Weaver takes the mound at Progressive Field, he’s king of the hill.
Just don’t ask him why.
Weaver chalked up another win in Cleveland and Josh Hamilton hit a three-run homer in the first inning as the Los Angeles Angels ended their four-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Indians, who dropped their fifth in a row Friday night.
Weaver (7-5) allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings. The right-hander has dominated in Cleveland’s ballpark, going 6-0 with 1.64 ERA in nine career starts. According to the Angels, he entered the game as the first pitcher since 1916 to be 5-0 or better with an ERA of 1.52 or lower at any road ballpark.
Afterward, Weaver was unaware of his supremacy in Cleveland.
“I have no idea,” Weaver said. “I’m not a numbers’ guy. I feel comfortable in this park.”
Hamilton connected in the first when the Angels scored five off Scott Kazmir (7-5), who lost for the first time since June 10 – a span of 10 starts – and didn’t get any redemption against the team that released him one start into his 2011 season.
Not that he was looking for any.
“There aren’t any hard feelings or anything like that,” he said. “It was business.”
J.C. Gutierrez worked the eighth and rookie Dane De La Rosa had a 1-2-3 ninth for his first major league save. De La Rosa got a diving catch by left fielder Collin Cowgill for the first out.
Michael Brantley and Asdrubal Cabrera homered for Cleveland, still reeling from a four-game sweep by AL Central-leading Detroit.
The Angels came in staggering as well.
They were swept in three straight at home by the Rangers, who stole 13 bases in back-to-back games. But staked to the 5-0 lead, Weaver handled the Indians and won his fourth straight decision, and for the sixth time in eight starts dating to July 2. He’s 5-0 with a 0.63 ERA in his last six starts in Cleveland.
“I was pretty erratic early on,” Weaver said. “My command probably wasn’t as good as it has been, but I was able to make some pitches to get guys out. The five-run lead helped a lot.”
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Weaver was the right guy to stop the Angels’ skid.
“It starts with the guy who takes the ball,” Scioscia said.
“He didn’t have his best stuff, but he worked his way through a tough lineup.”
The Indians were counting on Kazmir to turn things around after the first-place Tigers came to town and ransacked their closest division rival.
But the left-hander, who came in 5-0 in nine home starts this season, couldn’t get out of the third inning against his former teammates.
Afterward, Kazmir, who has pitched 114 innings after throwing only 64 last season, said his arm is tired.
“It feels like I’m going through a little bit of dead-arm fatigue,” he said. “I thought I could go out there and gut it out, but it just didn’t work out.”
Kazmir was let go by the Angels two years ago, the beginning of a long trip back to the majors that detoured through independent ball. Last season, he pitched for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League, a world away from the AL he had known since 2004.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia admires Kazmir’s perseverance.
“It says a lot that he didn’t want to just take it to the ranch and relax and give up on something he loves to do,” Scioscia said. “It’s tough to see any player go through what Scott did. We saw it firsthand. It was really rough for him and disappointing for us. For a pitcher to rediscover himself like Scott has, it takes a lot of hard work and determination.”
Kazmir, though, lasted just three innings, allowing five runs and six hits in his shortest outing since June 15.
Kazmir’s first inning couldn’t have gone much worse – for him or the Indians.
The Angels rocked him for five runs, three coming on Hamilton’s 17th homer, and the left-hander was forced to throw 40 pitches to get three outs.
J.B. Shuck led off with a single and went to third on Cowgill’s blooper. Mike Trout walked on a pitch that could have been called strike three and Mark Trumbo followed with a two-run single. Trout stole third, and out later, Hamilton, in a 2-for-25 slump, launched his homer into the right-field seats to make it 5-0.
Once he finally got out of the inning, Kazmir walked slowly back to Cleveland’s dugout.
“It didn’t look like he had his best stuff to start,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “But some little things led to some bigger things and I think he’s a little bit tired.”
Brantley picked up one of the runs in the second with his eighth homer.
Cabrera, who lined out his first time up, brought the Indians within 5-2 in the fourth by connecting for his ninth homer.
But that’s as close as Cleveland got, as Weaver got stronger over the next three innings, allowing just one hit.