April 18, 2014

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Angels 5, Indians 2: Scott Kazmir’s tired arm sends Tribe to 5th straight loss

CLEVELAND — With 46 games left in the season, Indians pitcher Scott Kazmir is running out of gas. Unfortunately, so are his teammates, who continued their downward spiral Friday night.
The Los Angeles Angels torched Kazmir for five runs in the first inning, including a three-run homer by Josh Hamilton, then coasted home for a 5-2 victory.
Cleveland suffered its fifth straight loss — in the fifth game of its biggest homestand since 2007 — and has been outscored 30-13 during the skid.
“Things just didn’t work out the way Scott or we had hoped tonight,” manager Terry Francona said. “He didn’t have his best stuff and I think he’s a little tired, so we’re going to see if we can get him a couple more days between his next start.
“Hopefully, he’ll come back and we’ll get the Kaz that we’ve seen more often than not.”
Kazmir (7-5, 4.18 ERA) allowed six of Los Angeles’ first seven batters to reach base, which the Angels turned into five runs. Mark Trumbo drove in a pair with a single, and Hamilton bashed his 17th homer of the season into the Tribe bullpen just two batters later.
It was Kazmir’s first loss in 10 home starts in 2013, as well as his first defeat since June 10 at Texas. The left-hander did not pitch in the majors last season.
“I’m going through a dead-arm stage, but I tried to gut it out for my team tonight,” said Kazmir, who was 3-0 with a 2.91 ERA in his previous 10 outings. “For the most part, I’ve felt great all year, but after my last game in Miami (on Sunday), I felt like I needed a little bit of rest.
“When we lost (injured pitcher Corey) Kluber, I knew we were in a tough spot, so I tried to battle through. I just couldn’t get it done.”
Left fielder Michael Brantley and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera hit solo home runs for Cleveland, which only managed seven hits off right-hander Jared Weaver and relievers J.C. Gutierrez and Dane De La Rosa.
Weaver (7-5, 2.87 ERA) continued his domination of the Indians by throwing seven strong innings and striking out four. Despite allowing homers to Brantley in the second and Cabrera in the fourth, he remained undefeated in his career at Progressive Field.
In nine career games in Cleveland, Weaver is 6-0 with a 1.64 ERA. The three-time All-Star is the third pitcher in ballpark history to win his first six decisions, joining Pedro Martinez and Mike Maroth.
“We hit the ball hard off Weaver tonight, but we hit it right at them,” center fielder Michael Bourn said. “We had our chances, too, but it just didn’t work out — like it hasn’t since we came home.”
The lone saving grace for the Tribe was the work of relievers Matt Albers and Carlos Carrasco, who combined to throw six shutout innings. Albers worked the fourth, while Carrasco allowed one hit and struck out five over the final five innings.
Carrasco was recalled from Triple-A Columbus earlier in the day to give Cleveland another arm in the bullpen, but likely will take Kazmir’s next start in the rotation.
“Having Carlos here tonight was huge because he gave us a chance to win,” Francona said. “He was very good. He’ll be staying with us, not going back down.”
Nick Swisher, Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana, Lonnie Chisenhall and Yan Gomes accounted for the other five hits for the Indians, who were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position. De La Rosa worked the ninth and walked Santana before earning his first MLB save.
The Tribe also experienced a scare in the sixth when Cabrera had to be carried down the dugout steps to the clubhouse. The situation looked much worse than it actually was, though, as he had dirt kicked in his eyes by Hamilton while turning a double play to end the top half of the inning.
“He had a bunch of dirt in his eyes, and I mean a bunch of dirt, so he couldn’t see a thing,” Francona said. “It was a bit of a cluster there in the dugout for a minute, but Asdrubal was fine, which is why he stayed in the game.”
Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.