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Kazmir haunts Mets in Indians' victory

The SportsXchange

CLEVELAND -- Scott Kazmir was almost untouchable Friday night, which made the Cleveland Indians unbeatable.

Kazmir struck out 12 in six scoreless innings and Nick Swisher belted a grand slam to lead Cleveland to an 8-1 win over the New York Mets.

Kazmir (8-7) struck out the side in three of the six innings he pitched, fanning 12 of the 22 batters he faced, as he came within one strikeout of his career high set six years ago.

"He was really good with his fastball. He threw it for strikes. He threw it with power and he located it," said Indians manager Terry Francona.

Kazmir's career high of 13 strikeouts was set on Aug. 25, 2007, against Oakland when he was pitching for Tampa Bay. That was the year Kazmir led the American League with 239 strikeouts.

The 12 strikeouts Friday were the most by an Indians pitcher since Justin Masterson struck out 12 Minnesota Twins on Sept. 30, 2009. Kazmir's dozen strikeouts are the most by an Indians left-hander since CC Sabathia had 13 against Kansas City on Sept. 14, 2007.

"That's the best I've ever seen him pitch and I saw him pitch in Tampa for a while," said Mets manager Terry Collins.

"That's the most strikeouts I've had in a long time, but what was most important was throwing up zeroes and getting our hitters back in the dugout," said Kazmir.

Kazmir struck out the last four batters he faced, including striking out the side in the sixth inning. He threw 97 pitches, 72 of them strikes.

"Like Ubaldo (Jimenez), it looks like he's catching his second wind. That impressive. And we're going to need it," Francona said.

The loss went to Mets starter Zack Wheeler (7-4) who pitched five innings and gave up three runs, two earned, on five hits and five walks.

New York's only run came on a home run by Justin Turner off reliever Cody Allen in the seventh inning.

Cleveland extended a 3-0 lead to 4-0 in the sixth inning when Yan Gomes doubled and scored on a double by Lonnie Chisenhall.

Turner's home run cut it to 4-1 in the top of the seventh, but in the bottom of the eighth the Indians sandwiched two walks around a double by Drew Stubbs to load the bases with one out. Swisher then belted a 1-2 pitch from reliever Tim Byrdak over the left-field wall for his eighth career grand slam, but his first home run since Aug. 21.

"I was just trying to get one of the four runners in, but I was lucky enough to get all four in. I'll take it," Swisher said.

"He has been trying so hard. That should help him," said Francona of Swisher. "He wants to do so well so bad. Sometimes guys grind too hard."

Cleveland used minimal offense against Wheeler to take a 2-0 lead after two innings. In the first inning, the Indians loaded the bases with no outs on two singles and a walk, but could score only one run in the inning, on a sacrifice fly by Carlos Santana.

In the Cleveland second inning, a walk, a throwing error by Mets third baseman Wilmer Flores and a sacrifice fly by Michael Bourn led to another run, giving the Indians a 2-0 lead.

An RBI single by Santana in the fifth inning stretched the Cleveland lead to 3-0.

Notes: Kazmir was the Mets' first-round pick in the 2002 draft. ... Mets reliever LHP Scott Rice, who leads the majors in appearances with 73, will not pitch again this season. He is scheduled to have surgery to repair a sports hernia next week. ... The Mets have selected the contract of LHP Sean Henn from Triple-A Las Vegas. ... Indians OF Michael Brantley has left the team to return to his home in West Palm Beach, Fla., to be with his wife, Melissa, who is expecting the couple's first child. ... RHP Corey Kluber will be activated off the disabled list and will start Saturday night's game against the Mets. Kluber has been on the DL since Aug. 6 with a sprained right middle finger.
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