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Kazmir helps Indians shut out Marlins

The SportsXchange

MIAMI -- Scott Kazmir is no longer an All-Star like he was in 2006 and 2008, but the veteran pitcher is having his best season since he reached those heights.

On Sunday, he tossed six scoreless innings to help the Cleveland Indians blank the Miami Marlins 2-0 Sunday afternoon at Marlins Park.

"I feel like I'm better than what I was in the past, (even) in my better years," Kazmir said. "I'm a little more wise. I have a couple more pitches, and I'm attacking the strike zone a little better."

The second-place Indians have now won 10 out of their past 11 games and will play host to Detroit for four games, starting on Monday. The Indians trail the Tigers by three games in the AL Central after Detroit beat the Chicago White Sox 3-2 Sunday.

"I'd rather be 10 games up," Indians manager Terry Francona joked when asked if this was the perfect scenario to face Detroit. "But the way our guys are playing, this makes it really exciting. We get to play the best team in our division and see how we do."

Kazmir (7-4) allowed just two hits and two walks. He struck out seven and never faced much trouble beyond Ed Lucas' one-out double in the first. No one else reached second base against Kazmir.

Bryan Shaw and Joe Smith both pitched an inning in relief. And Chris Perez, who got help from a diving catch by center fielder Michael Bourn, worked a perfect ninth to earn his 17th save and his second in two days in Miami, where he pitched in college.

But the story was Kazmir, who oddly enough said he was fascinated by watching Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez blank his team on Friday night.

"He pitched a heck of a game - it was something I actually enjoyed watching, how effective he was with all of his pitches," Kazmir said. "But for us to come back and take two straight was huge, especially going into the Detroit series. It's going to be high intensity."

Marlins starter Nate Eovaldi (2-2) got the loss despite allowing just one run in seven innings. He escaped trouble in the seventh, when the Indians put runners on second and third with one out. Eovaldi got pinch-hitter Jason Giambi to pop out and Michael Bourn to fly out to end the threat.

Eovaldi pitched well enough to win, but, for the fourth straight start, he got zero run support.

The Indians got the game's first run in the second inning when catcher Yan Gomes hit an infield single to shortstop, advanced to third when Mark Reynolds doubled off the fence in left and scored on Lonnie Chisenhall's single to center.

Gomes, getting his first start of the series, was playing in front of his home crowd - he went to Miami's Southridge High and Barry University - and showed off some more when he picked Jeff Mathis off first base in the third inning. Gomes finished the game 3-for-4.

The Indians made it 2-0 in eighth when Mike Aviles doubled against reliever Chad Qualls and scored on a two-out single by Michael Brantley.

Marlins manager Mike Redmond said his offense is "scrappy" despite getting shut out on Sunday.

"For the most part, we've been able to put the ball in play," he said. "We're not getting a ton of hits, and, in a game like this, that hurts you."

NOTES: Qualls has now faced every team in the big leagues. ... The Indians rested three of Saturday's starters -- C Carlos Santana, 1B Nick Swisher and SS Asdrubal Cabrera. They were replaced by Gomes, Reynolds and Aviles. ... Marlins pitchers have gone 12 straight games without allowing a homer, a club record. Since 1990, the only other team to have a homerless streak of at least 12 games was the Atlanta Braves, who did it twice in 1998. ... Against Detroit, the Indians will throw Corey Kluber, Justin Masterson, Danny Salazar and Zach McAllister. The Tigers will counter with Anibal Sanchez, Justin Verlander, Doug Fister and Max Scherzer. ... Ubaldo Jimenez was originally set to start Wednesday, but the Indians pushed him back to Friday because of his poor record against Detroit this year (1-2, 6.92) and a rocky start on Friday against the Marlins. In his place, the Indians will call up Salazar, 23, who threw five no-hit innings in Triple-A on Friday. He was 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in one start with Cleveland in July. ... The Marlins start a three-game series in Pittsburgh on Tuesday against the Pirates, who are in first place in a tight National League Central race. The last-place Marlins will try to play spoiler, especially Thursday, when Fernandez takes the mound. ... The Indians' six steals on Saturday were their most since 2000 at Boston. It also tied a club record for the most the Marlins have ever allowed. ... With Jeff Mathis instead of Rob Brantly catching Sunday, the Indians were held without a steal.
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