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Indians blank Rangers, sweep series

The SportsXchange

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians are on a roll, and they are rolling behind their pitching staff.

On Sunday Ubaldo Jimenez pitched eight scoreless innings and combined with reliever Vinnie Pestano on a two-hitter as the Indians shutout Texas 6-0. It's the second consecutive shutout of the Rangers by the Indians, who swept their three-game weekend series.

Saturday night the Indians blanked the Rangers, 1-0. It's the first time Cleveland pitchers have tossed back-to-back shutouts since May 12-14, 2008, against Oakland and it's the first time Texas has been shutout in consecutive games since Sept. 16-18, 2009, against Oakland and the Angels.

"Sometimes you catch a team at a good time, when they aren't hot with the bats, and you have to take advantage of it," said Cleveland manager Terry Francona.

Jimenez (8-5) held the Rangers to two hits, striking out six and walking three.

"I just tried to be aggressive. Get ahead in the count and stay ahead," said Jimenez, who has allowed three earned runs or less in 11 of his last 12 starts.

The Indians, who have won four games in a row, got three hits each from Nick Swisher and Yan Gomes, a two-run double from Michael Bourn and a two-run home run from Mike Aviles.

But it was the pitching that again carried the day. Indians pitchers have 14 shutouts, the most in the majors this season. Over their last 16 games Indians starting pitchers are 8-2 with a 1.77 ERA.

"It's a good competition," said Jimenez of his fellow starters. "You go out there and pitch good and the next guy wants to do better."

The only hits by the Rangers Sunday were a double by Elvis Andrus in the first inning and a single by A.J. Pierzynski in the fifth.

"There is a difference between getting beat and losing," said Texas manager Ron Washington, who held a postgame meeting with his team. "The first two games we got beat. What I want to see is the Texas Rangers. Today they were out there, but I didn't see who I thought the Texas Rangers were."

Texas starter Alexi Ogando (4-3) came into Sunday's game with a 0.84 ERA in eight career appearances, including two starts, against Cleveland, and held the Indians scoreless on four hits through the first four innings.

Cleveland reached Ogando for a run in the fifth with a rally that began with two outs and nobody on base. Bourn drew a walk and went to third on Swisher's third hit of the game, a single to center. Jason Kipnis followed that with a single to right, scoring Bourn and giving Cleveland a 1-0 lead.

Kipnis' hit knocked Ogando out of the game. In 4 2/3 innings, Ogando threw 92 pitches and gave up one run and six hits with one strikeout and two walks.

"We made Ogando work. We got his pitch count up. Sometimes that's the way you beat good pitching," Francona said.

"I got behind in the count too many times, but I battled and managed to get outs in most situations," Ogando said.

The Indians extended their lead to 4-0 with a three-run sixth against reliever Robbie Ross.

Michael Brantley led off the inning with a single and went to second on a single by Carlos Santana. Ross retired the next two batters and it looked like the Cleveland rally had stalled. But Gomes poked a single through the infield, scoring Brantley to make it 2-0. Bourn followed with a double to left center, scoring Santana and Gomes and giving Cleveland a 4-0 lead.

Aviles added two insurance runs with a two-run homer off reliever Ross Wolf in the eighth.

"When you can shutout a team with an offense as potent as theirs two days in a row, it shows how good our pitching was," Aviles said.

NOTES: Andrus' double extended his hitting streak against Cleveland to 37 games, which are all the games that Andrus has played against the Indians during his career. ... Yu Darvish has 15 career games of 10-plus strikeouts. That is third most on the Rangers' career list behind Nolan Ryan (34 games) and Bobby Witt (24). ... In his last two appearances on Friday and Saturday, Indians closer Chris Perez pitched a total of three innings and retired all nine batters he has faced, on 24 pitches. ... Indians DH Jason Giambi needs nine hits to reach 2,000 for his career.
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