ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Cleveland Indians
struggled to find any kind of offense for 13 innings Tuesday night, but there was good news to start the 14th. Joe Blanton
, the Los Angeles Angels
pitcher banished to a relief role after going 2-13 as a starter, left the bullpen to enter the game.
True to form, Blanton gave up three runs in the top of the 14th, the key hit being Drew Stubbs
' two-run homer, and the Indians came away with a hard-fought, 4-1 win at Angel Stadium. Carlos Carrasco
(1-4), one of eight Indians relievers in the game, got the victory over Blanton (2-14) in a game that lasted five hours and 17 minutes and ended after midnight early Wednesday morning.
The Indians added an unearned run off Blanton in the 14th to finish off the scoring.
With the win, Cleveland (68-58) moved within three games of the Oakland A's for the second American League wild-card spot.
"There was just a huge exhale, satisfaction, it was relief more than anything else," Stubbs said of the feeling in the dugout after his home run. "A game like that is kind of a gut-wrencher where you leave everything out on the field and it would've been a tough one to lose. We lost one like that to Detroit earlier in the year, and trying to bounce back from a game like that is not easy."
On the other side of the diamond, the Angels (55-70) fell 15 games under .500 for the first time since Mike Scioscia took over as manager in 2000. The last time the Angels were as many as 15 games under .500 was after the final game of the 1999 season, when they were 70-92.
J.B. Shuck's home run in the first gave the Angels a 1-0 lead, and it held up until Carlos Santana
homered in the seventh to tie the game at 1.
The Angels had chances in the later innings to go ahead but spoiled their opportunities. In the eighth, Josh Hamilton got picked off second, thwarting a potential rally. In the ninth, the Angels had two on with two out, but Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera made a fantastic stop of Erick Aybar's grounder up the middle, throwing him out to send the game into extra innings.
The Angels could not have asked for a better shot for the win than they got in the 10th. Hamilton singled and went to second on a walk by Mark Trumbo. Kole Calhoun was called on to sacrifice, but his bunt was perfect and went for a hit, loading the bases. But it went downhill from there for Los Angeles.
Matt Albers struck out Chris Nelson for the first out of the inning. Indians manager Terry Francona then brought in lefty Rich Hill to face Hank Conger, who lined out to third for the second out of the inning. Hill was replaced by Bryan Shaw, who struck out Grant Green
to escape the jam.
"We did a lot of things good on the field, we did," Scioscia said. "Some of our kids got in situations and couldn't get it done, and that's going to happen. There's going to be growing pains, and we saw some tonight. Hopefully these guys will use the experience and get better."
Angels starter C.J. Wilson cruised early, shutting out the Indians on two hits through six innings. However, he was walking a tightrope, the Angels able to get only one run for him off Indians starter Danny Salazar. Leading off the seventh, the Indians got even when Santana homered to center, just over the outstretched glove of Peter Bourjos to tie the game at 1-1.
Wilson allowed one run and four hits in 7 1/3 innings, striking out five and walking three.
Salazar gave up one run in 5 1/3 innings.
NOTES: Angels OF Mike Trout did not play for the second game in a row because of a sore right hamstring. Trout, who hurt the hamstring running out a double Sunday, said the hamstring continues to improve. He is questionable for Wednesday's game. ... Angels C Chris Iannetta has a chance to become the fourth player since 2007 to finish the season with more walks than hits (minimum 120 games). Iannetta, who has 60 walks and 55 hits, would join Barry Bonds (2007), Jack Cust (2007) and Adam Dunn (2011). ... RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka asked for and was granted his unconditional release by the Indians. Matsuzaka went 5-8 with a 3.92 ERA in 19 starts for Triple-A Columbus this season, never being called up to the major league club. He pitched well of late, going 4-3 with a 2.50 ERA in his past eight starts for Columbus. ... OF Ryan Raburn, who is tied for the Indians' team lead with 15 home runs, is the only player in the majors with at least 15 home runs and fewer than 200 at-bats (195). His homers-per-at-bat ratio of one every 13 at-bats ranks third in the majors behind Chris Davis (1 in 9.9) and Miguel Cabrera (1 in 11.1).
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