CLEVELAND (AP) - Mike Scioscia's ninth-inning gamble paid off, though it couldn't save the Los Angeles Angels from a tough defeat Monday night.
Jason Kipnis delivered his first career hit with the bases loaded and two outs to give the Cleveland Indians a 3-2 victory.
Thanks to 7 2-3 strong innings from Dan Haren and Bobby Abreu's two-run homer in the eighth, the Angels took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth.
Rookie closer Jordan Walden (2-3) gave up a leadoff single to Michael Brantley, who stole second. After Asdrubal Cabrera struck out, Travis Hafner's one-out double tied the game. Walden walked Carlos Santana and hit Jack Hannahan with an 0-2 pitch to load the bases.
As Scioscia went to the mound to bring left-hander Hisanori Takahashi into the game, right fielder Torii Hunter came in to play as an extra infielder between first and second base with Travis Buck batting. The five-man alignment cut down the winning run at the plate, at least for a moment.
Buck hit a 1-0 pitch on one hop to Hunter, whose low and wide throw home nearly pulled Jeff Mathis off the plate, but the catcher completed the forceout.
``You have to defend what you can in that situation,' Scioscia said. ``Any fly ball is going to beat you. We wanted to plug the right side with more people to give us a better chance if the ball is rolled over on that side.'
Cleveland manager Manny Acta, who has seen his offense struggle all season, admitted to some frustration at that moment.
``I was thinking, 'Geez, we can't even hit a ball over an outfielder playing the infield,' Acta said. ``I thought he might throw it away being an outfielder, but Torii's a good athlete and he made the play.'
Kipnis hit a 1-0 pitch between first and second. Walden, who throws consistently in the high 90s, blew his seventh save in 30 tries.
``I'm always learning,' he said. ``There's no excuses. I got beat.'
``He's shown a couple of games where he's been off on the first couple of hitters, but he's found it,' Scioscia said. ``You want to give him enough rope where he can work out of stuff, but tonight it kept going in the wrong direction for him.'
Haren struck out 10 and appeared in line for his fifth win in seven starts since June 24. The right-hander gave up a first-inning run, three hits and two walks.
Haren matched his season high in strikeouts, set May 8 in a 6-5 Angels win over Cleveland in which he got a no-decision. On April 12, he blanked the Indians 2-0 on a one-hitter - a fourth-inning single by Shin-Soo Choo.
``I felt good,' Haren said. ``I got in a little trouble in the first inning, but I didn't have too many baserunners after that, a couple of walks. In a 1-0 game, you have to be a little more careful.'
Tony Sipp (5-2) pitched a scoreless ninth for the win after Abreu's two-run homer off Vinnie Pestano put the Angels ahead 2-1 in the eighth
Maicer Izturis opened the eighth with a single off Pestano, who then retired Hunter on a long fly ball to center. Abreu stepped up, hitting only .152 (10 for 66) in July. The veteran pulled a 1-0 pitch into the right-field seats for his fourth homer and a 2-1 lead.
Indians starter Fausto Carmona pitched six shutout innings before Joe Smith worked a scoreless seventh.
The Angels stranded two runners in the second, fourth and fifth innings. In the fifth, with runners on first and third and two outs, Abreu hit a shot that Buck caught with his back against the wall to preserve Cleveland's 1-0 lead.
Scioscia talked prior to the game how his offense needed to start producing.
``We're looking at two runs and you're thinking it's one of those nights again,' he said. ``We hit the ball much better than it showed. Bobby hit a big home run and just missed another. Torii killed the ball to center field and hit the ball hard all night.'
Notes: The Angels are 24-12 since June 13. ... RHP Fernando Rodney (upper back strain) struck out two in a hitless inning on Sunday, his first appearance since June 8. ``He had great stuff,' Scioscia said. ``He threw some fastballs past some pretty good fastball hitters.' ... Hunter went 0 for 3 with a walk and is 4 for 39 (.103) since the All-Star break.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved