Indians take 2 of 3 from Angels with 4-3 win
Lewis worked out of a ninth-inning jam for his third save to help the Cleveland Indians beat the Angels 4-3 in the deciding game of a three-game series Sunday.
It was the Angels’ first series loss to an AL opponent since a three-game sweep in Tampa Bay from May 9-11. They hadn’t lost any series since dropping two of three interleague games to the Los Angeles Dodgers from June 27-29.
“You set the standard so high and you lose one series and ask ‘what’s wrong,’ ” Angels outfielder Torii Hunter said. “That’s what we’re saying. We’ve been riding the wave so long. We have to get another wave.”
One key to the Angels having baseball’s best record (76-46) has been Rodriguez. The right-hander has 47 saves and is on track to shatter the record of 57 by Bobby Thigpen of the Chicago White Sox in 1990.
Jeremy Sowers (2-6) gave up eight hits but only two earned runs over 6 2-3 innings for his first win in five starts. He again struggled in the first inning, allowing two runs. In 15 starts, Sowers has given up 15 runs in the opening inning.
“We got timely hitting and good relief work,” Sowers said after earning his first home win in 13 starts at Progressive Field since beating Detroit on Aug. 25, 2006.
The left-hander has his former Vanderbilt teammate to thank for it.
“This was just like college,” Lewis said. “Jeremy would start and I would finish. I told him during the anthem, ‘I’m going to come in and save it for you.
“But if he doesn’t pitch like he did, we don’t have the chance to win. He did a great job.”
So did Lewis and Rafael Perez, who struck out three over 1 1-3 perfect innings.
Juan Rivera blooped a single in front of center fielder Grady Sizemore to open the ninth against Lewis. Gary Matthews ran for Rivera and was sacrificed to second by pinch-hitter Sean Rodriguez. Pinch-hitter Kendry Morales singled Matthews to third before Lewis got Chone Figgins on an infield popout and Erick Aybar to foul out to left field.
“You talk about the definition of a save and that’s it,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “Lewis showed a lot of moxie out there. We were playing ‘no doubles’ on defense, so that first ball drops in. Jensen had to bow his neck and that’s what he did.”
Cleveland took a 4-3 lead in the sixth against Justin Speier (1-6). Sal Fasano hit a leadoff double and was sacrificed to third. Sizemore then fought off an inside fastball that jammed him, blooping an RBI single to right-center.
The Angels had scored 164 runs in their previous 26 games and quickly added to that total.
Singles by Figgins, Aybar and Mark Teixeira to open the game gave them a 1-0 lead. When Teixeira’s soft single to center hopped past Sizemore for an error, the runners went to second and third. Aybar then scored on a grounder by Vladimir Guerrero, though Teixeira was out trying for third.
Cleveland’s Franklin Gutierrez had three singles for his first three-hit game since April 29. His two-out, two-run single off Joe Saunders with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first tied it at 2.
The Indians scored once in the third. With Jamey Carroll on third base and two outs, Ryan Garko checked his swing and hit a high bouncer over Saunders’ head for an RBI single. Carroll scored easily as Saunders stumbled while going for the ball and his left shoulder collided with second baseman Howie Kendrick’s knee.
“It tightened up a little bit, but I’m not coming out of the game because of something like that,” Saunders said. “It should be fine. I’m not planning on missing my next start.”
Figgins singled to start the fifth and eventually scored an unearned run on a passed ball by Fasano to tie it at 3.
Saunders wasn’t as sharp as he’s been in earning a team-high 14 wins. The lefty left after five innings with a 3-3 tie, though he remained unbeaten in his last six starts. He gave up three runs and eight hits—the 11th consecutive start in which has not allowed more than three earned runs.
The Angels fell to 53-9 when scoring first. … Indians OF Ben Francisco went 2-for-4 for his eighth two-hit game in his last nine starts. … Indians DH Travis Hafner (weak right shoulder) and 2B Josh Barfield (middle finger surgery, left hand) will start injury rehab assignments at Triple-A Buffalo on Monday. … C Victor Martinez (right elbow surgery) went 2-for-4 with a homer as the DH at Double-A Akron on Sunday and will transfer his rehab work to Buffalo on Tuesday. … Angels OF Garret Anderson, on a 20-game hitting streak, got a day off. … With the Angels headed to Tampa Bay on Monday, manager Mike Scioscia has kept on eye on Tropical Storm Fay, due to hit Florida. “I’m sure in the next 48 hours we’ll have a lot better feel for what’s happening,” Scioscia said. Last April, the Angels had a three-game series moved from Cleveland to Milwaukee because of a blizzard.