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Kazmir dominates as Indians sweep A's

The SportsXchange

CLEVELAND -- During the offseason, Cleveland Indians officials took a flyer on Scott Kazmir, and that decision has paid off so far as the lefty and the Indians are flying high.

Kazmir tossed six dominating innings at Progressive Field, and the Indians' offense continued to roll as Cleveland completed a four-game series sweep by clobbering the Oakland A's 9-2 on Thursday.

"They're playing great and can't do anything wrong, and we're struggling," said Oakland manager Bob Melvin, whose team has lost six of eight games.

Kazmir (2-1) held the A's to one run on five hits, striking out 10 without issuing a walk. In his previous two starts, Kazmir is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA, with 17 strikeouts and one walk in 12 innings.

"That's the Kazmir that, when I was in Boston and we faced him, I would tell David Ortiz he was getting a day off and David didn't argue," Indians manager Terry Francona said.

Kazmir struck out two batters in five of the six innings he pitched, and improved his career record against Oakland to 10-5.

Thursday's win capped an 8-1 homestand for the Indians, who have also won 10 of 11 games since April 28. During that stretch, their starting pitchers, a question mark heading into the season, are 9-1 with a 2.56 ERA.

"They're attacking the strike zone, getting ahead in the count and giving us a chance to win," Francona said.

Kazmir did that on Thursday. The only run he allowed was a solo homer by Josh Donaldson in the sixth inning.

"I'm feeling very confident out there. It's getting better and better," said Kazmir, who signed a minor-league deal over the winter and won a rotation spot in spring training.

"The first time we saw him throw in spring training, we thought he could pitch and win with the stuff he had," Francona said. "We were just hoping he could hold onto it. So far he has."

The Indians' offense, meanwhile, continues to pile up big numbers. They outscored opponents 57-23 during their 8-1 homestand.

The Indians also lead the majors in home runs with 49, and hit three more Thursday. Jason Kipnis, Nick Swisher and AL home run leader Mark Reynolds all went deep, as the Indians scored five runs in the first two innings off A's starter Bartolo Colon (3-2), who gave up six runs in four innings.

In the first, Kipnis belted a two-run homer to put Cleveland up 2-0. The Indians scored three more times in the second inning, which began with a Reynolds double. Yan Gomes doubled home Reynolds, and Drew Stubbs' single drove in Gomes. Stubbs later scored on a sacrifice fly by Kipnis.

The Indians flexed their muscles again in the third when Swisher swatted one into the right-field seats to make it 6-0. In the fifth, Asdrubal Cabrera led off with a double and scored on a single by Jason Giambi.

Giambi then jogged home on Reynolds' 11th homer of the season.

"We kept doing what we've been doing," Kipnis said. "We have lots of guys going well now."

It was a deflating series for the A's, particularly their loss Wednesday night, when a home run by Adam Rosales that would've tied the game in the ninth inning was mistakenly ruled a double by the umpiring crew, even after a video review.

Major League Baseball Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations Joe Torre issued a statement Thursday admitting "an improper call was made," but said the call would stand.

"That's the final decision," Rosales said. "I mean, there's nothing else you can do about it. Once it happened, it happened. It's over. That was yesterday. We've just got to move on from it and continue forward."

Notes. Oakland starter Colon pitched for Cleveland from 1997-2002 and had a winning percentage of .625, which ranks second on the Indians' all-time list behind Cliff Lee (.634) ... Donaldson finished the day 2-for-3 with a home run, and is hitting .367 in his last 17 games. ... Indians outfielder Michael Bourn, on the disabled list since April 15 with a lacerated right index finger, was activated after the game. He's expected to be in the starting lineup Friday night when the Indians begin a three-game series with the Central Division-leading Detroit Tigers. ... Indians pitcher Brett Myers, on the DL with a strained tendon in his right elbow, is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Saturday.
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