|Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Jered Weaver delivers against the Cleveland Indians in the first inning of a baseball game Monday, July 2, 2012, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)|
Indians blanked 3-0 by Weaver, Angels
CLEVELAND—A high-scoring weekend in scorching Baltimore had Cleveland's hitters feeling better about their offense than they had in weeks.
The Indians had finally heated up.
Jered Weaver cooled them down quickly.
Weaver squirmed out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning and pitched into the eighth to remain unbeaten at Progressive Field, leading the Los Angeles Angels to a 3-0 win Monday night over the Indians, who managed just five hits.
After scoring 32 runs on 55 hits during a four-game series against the Orioles, the Indians collected just five singles off Weaver (9-1), who held the first 18 Cleveland hitters to one base hit and escaped the Indians' only major threat.
"As good as he was," said Indians outfielder Johnny Damon. "I've seen him better at times. He's a good pitcher. He knows what to do."
Down 2-0, the Indians loaded the bases in the seventh inning off Weaver on two walks and a single. But the right-hander, who is 5-0 with a 1.52 ERA in eight career starts in Cleveland, got a forceout at the plate, foul pop and strikeout.
"What he did was awesome." said Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick. "That's why he's our ace."
Kendrick homered in the seventh off Ubaldo Jimenez (7-7) as the Angels improved to 16-3 on the road since May 22.
Cleveland wasted another strong outing by Jimenez, who allowed three runs and eight hits in 7 2-3 innings. In his past six outings, the right-hander has a 2.93 ERA over 40 innings and has pitched like the No. 1 pitcher the Indians thought they were getting when they traded for him last season.
"I'm not saying he's not going to have a rough outing now and then," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "But he's headed in the right direction."
Weaver, who pitched a no-hitter against Minnesota on May 7, allowed two hits through six innings before the All-Star went a little wild in the seventh.
He walked Jason Kipnis leading off and allowed Michael Brantley's single, giving Cleveland its first baserunner at second. Weaver walked Carlos Santana to load the bases and Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher went to the mound to settle down the right-hander.
Turns out, Weaver was never in real danger.
He got Damon to ground to third baseman Alberto Callaspo, who alertly fired home to force Kipnis. Weaver then retired Casey Kotchman on a pop behind the plate before fanning Shelley Duncan on a nasty slider that was low and way outside.
After the strikeout, Weaver calmly walked to the dugout as if he retired the side in order.
Damon, who is batting just .201, felt he let Weaver off the hook.
"He is a very good pitcher," Damon said. "But unfortunately I let the team down. I was in a situation to, at the worst case, try to push across one run right there, and he gave me some pitches off the plate that I felt like I could drive to left and I didn't."
Weaver was pulled after giving up two singles to start the eighth. Downs came in and induced All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to hit into a double play and popped up Kipnis. Downs then worked a perfect ninth as manager Mike Scioscia chose to stick with the left-hander instead of closer Ernesto Frieri.
The Indians were shut out for the second time this season.
"This one hurts, especially with how good Ubaldo threw the ball," said Damon, who is just .133 (6 for 45) with runners in scoring position. "Hopefully things change a little for me. The first two months have been tough. I've been trying."
Making his third start since coming off the disabled list with a strained lower back, Weaver retired 11 in a row before giving up a leadoff walk in the sixth. He quickly recovered, however, by getting Jack Hannahan to ground into a double play.
Angels rookie center fielder Mike Trout, the AL's leading hitter, was scratched from the starting lineup with a jammed right pinky. Trout hurt his finger diving back into second on Sunday in Toronto. The All-Star reserve had trouble gripping the bat during early batting practice and manager Mike Scioscia rested the 20-year-old before bringing him in as a pinch-runner in the eighth.
Kendrick's homer in the seventh gave Weaver a two-run cushion -- more than enough for the three-time All-Star.
With one out, Kendrick drove a 3-2 pitch from Jimenez over the wall in left for his fifth homer.
The Angels added a run in the eighth when Jimenez walked three -- two intentional -- and forced in a run. Jimenez gave up three runs and eight hits in 7 2-3 innings.
Los Angeles had its own trouble with Jimenez before finally pushing across a run in the fifth on Erick Aybar's sacrifice fly.
NOTES: Santana was back in the lineup after missing four games with a strained back and side. He had one hit and threw out three runners at second base. ... OF Shin-Soo Choo is batting .328 with seven homers and 17 RBIs in 44 games since moving into the leadoff spot on May 14. He has raised his average from .235 to .290. ... Indians DH Travis Hafner went 0 for 4 in a rehab start for Triple-A Columbus as he continues to recover from knee surgery. Acta expects Hafner to be recalled during the Indians' seven-game homestand.