ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—Driving in runs has always been Garret Anderson’s top priority.
The Angels slugger extended his streak to a club-record 11 games with at least one RBI, knocking in three runs and leading Los Angeles past the Cleveland Indians 10-3 on Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series between AL division leaders.
“I’ve made my living driving in runs and not worrying about hitting home runs,” said Anderson, who has hit nine of his 15 homers in the last 16 games. “I like to make it tough on the pitcher, knowing that I can hit a home run. But at the same time, I’ll take my hits, too. I was just glad that the actual RBI that broke the record meant something.”
The Angels’ career RBI leader had a run-scoring single that triggered a four-run rally in the fifth inning and added a two-run homer in the eighth, breaking the previous franchise mark of 10 consecutive games with an RBI that was shared by Fred Lynn and Wally Joyner.
Lynn had his streak of 10 games with an RBI in 1984 and finished that season with 79 in 142 games. Joyner had his run in 1986 and finished with 100 in 154 games. Anderson has only 68 this year, but he missed 46 games during two stints on the disabled list.
“As I’ve said all along, there’s a lot of great players who played in this organization that just didn’t play as long as I have,” Anderson said. “It’s just a tribute to my being here for my whole career. That’s really what I attribute it to, because I have a lot of respect for the players who were here before me.”
Anderson has 21 RBIs during his streak, which began five games after he set another team record with 10 RBIs in an 18-9 victory over the Yankees on Aug. 21. The three-time All-Star, who leads the majors with 56 RBIs since the All-Star break, was moved from the cleanup spot to the No. 3 hole Thursday after right fielder Vladimir Guerrero was scratched because of inflammation in his right triceps.
Kelvim Escobar (16-7) allowed three runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings, striking out eight and walking three.
Casey Kotchman broke out of a 4-for-33 skid with two hits and three RBIs for the Angels, who increased their AL West lead over the idle Seattle Mariners to eight games and matched their largest margin of the season.
Cleveland lost for the second time in 13 games, reducing its AL Central lead to six games over Detroit.
Anderson’s record-breaking RBI came against former teammate Paul Byrd (14-6) and cut Cleveland’s lead to 4-3. Gary Matthews Jr. followed with an infield hit and Byrd allowed two-out RBI singles by Anderson and Kendry Morales. The four-run rally began when Jeff Mathis was hit by a pitch on the right hand.
When Anderson got to first base on his RBI single, the crowd of 41,720 gave him a standing ovation and he acknowledged the fans by doffing his helmet.
“He’s just a quiet superstar,” Byrd said. “He never draws attention to himself. He could be a bigger name if he did that, but he doesn’t. He just goes about his business very quietly and very gentlemanly. He’s on my all-underrated team.”
Byrd then walked Maicer Izturis before Kotchman chased him with a two-run double. The right-hander was charged with five runs and eight hits over 4 2-3 innings after winning his previous four starts.
“It wasn’t what I had in mind, coming back to Anaheim and pitching against some of my buddies. It was a nightmarish inning,” Byrd said. “They’re hot right now. Any mistake I made, they hit hard. It’s a shame everything came with two outs. I just needed to make a pitch there and just could not get the ball down. I didn’t help myself out by hitting Mathis to lead off that inning.”
The Indians grabbed a 4-2 lead with a pair of fifth-inning runs. Franklin Gutierrez put them ahead with his 11th homer, ending an 0-for-14 drought. Travis Hafner doubled and scored on Victor Martinez’s bloop RBI single.
Cleveland opened the scoring in the third on Kelly Shoppach’s RBI double. Escobar then issued a pair of two-out walks before fanning Martinez on a splitter with the bases loaded.
“The key for me was being able to minimize damage,” Escobar said. “You just have to stay within yourself, not give in and keep making good pitches.”
The Angels tied it in the bottom half with Matthews’ run-scoring single, only the second RBI for Matthews in his first 24 at-bats on this homestand. The other came on a leadoff homer Monday night against Oakland.