Indians’ Lee beats Angels for 17th win
CLEVELAND (AP)—Cliff Lee has a proven formula for success: get two outs with one pitch.
“The guys made a lot of big plays behind me, Asdrubal (Cabrera) especially. I’ve told him about it four times since the game ended,” said Lee, who won for the sixth time in seven starts and lowered his ERA to 2.43.
The Angels have baseball’s best record (75-45) and had scored 48 runs in their last six games but could muster just eight hits and two runs against the left-hander.
“That might be the best lineup I’ve ever faced,” Lee said. “They are in first place for a reason.”
Lee (17-2) struck out six and moved closer to becoming Cleveland’s first 20-game winner since Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry did it in 1974. He also has a shot at giving Cleveland its second straight Cy Young Award winner. CC Sabathia, traded to Milwaukee on July 7, won the award a year ago.
“It’s too early to think of those things, but Cliff has had as good a year as anybody,” Indians manager Eric Wedge. “He’s never wavered.”
The Angels had not played at Progressive Field since Aug. 10, 2006. Their only scheduled series in Cleveland last season was played at Milwaukee’s Miller Park because of an April snowstorm in Ohio.
Manager Mike Scioscia called upon Jose Arredondo (4-1), who had combined with Weaver to allow no hits in an eight-inning loss June 28, but the right-hander struggled.
Arredondo took his first career loss. He came in with an 0.92 ERA in 34 outings since being called up in May.
“He was missing by quite a bit,” Scioscia said. “It looked like he lost his feel. You turn the page on this. He’ll bounce back.”
Cleveland tied it at 1 in the fourth on consecutive doubles by Ben Francisco and Jhonny Peralta, who rounded too far around second and was thrown out by Vladimir Guerrero after the Angels right fielder tracked down his drive off the wall.
Juan Rivera hit Lee’s first pitch of the fifth for his eighth homer and 2-1 lead. Rivera is 5-for-12 with three homers in his career against Lee.
The Indians turned double plays in four straight innings, including one started by Lee. After walking Jeff Mathis in the fifth, Lee lunged off the mound to backhand a bunt by Figgins and throw to first to easily double off Mathis.
“With the ball in the air, I don’t know why the guy was running but I thank him for that,” Lee said. “Maybe he thought it would drop. All I know is that Figgins is so fast, I had to get off the mound and try to make a play.”
In the sixth, Lee got Guerrero to hit into a double play. Then second baseman Cabrera barehanded a ball on the shortstop side of the bag and threw to first to retire Torii Hunter for the final out.
“I always play hard, but with Cliff I bear down more because I know he gets groundballs,” Cabrera said through first-base coach Luis Rivera serving as interpreter. “The barehand play, I practice that I lot.”
With runners on first and third in the seventh, Lee got Mathis to bounce into an inning-ending double play. Teixeira grounded into another double play to end the eighth.
“Any time you have runners in scoring position against him, you have to make it count,” Mathis said. “He made some big pitches.”
Weaver allowed two runs and five hits over 5 1-3 innings. The right-hander walked two and struck out six.
The Angels are 16-0-4 in their previous 20 series against AL opponents since being swept by Tampa Bay from May 9-11. … The Angels fell to 23-9 against lefty starters. … Angels DH Garret Anderson went 1-for-4 and is batting .380 (30-for-79) during a 19-game hitting streak. … Angels SS Maicer Izturis will have season-ending surgery on his left thumb Thursday. … Cleveland signed three of its June draft picks, including No. 2 selection Trey Haley, an 18-year-old right-hander from Texas. … Teixeira is hitting .387 (36-for-93) with seven homers and 24 RBIs in his last 25 games. … Peralta has hit safely in 16 of 17 games, going 24-for-74 (.324) with 13 RBIs.