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CLEVELAND 11, ANGELS 3

John Lackey, Angels unravel in the sixth

The Cleveland Indians bunch seven hits in a seven-run sixth inning at Progressive Field, ending the Angels' win streak at five games.

August 21, 2009|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | ON THE ANGELS

CLEVELAND — It was a rare dud for the Angels and ace John Lackey Thursday night, a game that might qualify for the "cash for clunkers" program.

So accustomed to pounding opponents into submission with big rallies, the Angels took what they've been dishing out for the last few months.

The Cleveland Indians bunched seven hits in a seven-run sixth inning en route to an 11-3 victory in Progressive Field that ended the Angels' winning streak at five games and reduced the Angels' American League West lead over Texas to 5 1/2 games.

"It's disappointing," Lackey (8-6) said after losing to a 52-68 club that is 12 games out in the AL Central. "It's a game you want to win, a game you feel you should win, honestly. But they put together a big inning, they got after it, and their guy pitched well."

"Their" guy was Justin Masterson, the 24-year-old right-hander who was acquired from the Boston Red Sox in the July 31 Victor Martinez trade.

Masterson gave up only one unearned run -- on a first-inning passed ball -- and three hits in 6 1/3 innings, striking out three and walking four, to earn his first win with the Indians.

Though the Angels beat Cleveland, 3-0, on Wednesday night, they managed only four hits, so a team that has averaged almost seven runs a game since the All-Star break has scored six runs on 11 hits in the last two nights.

Their lone highlight Thursday was a two-run home run by Kendry Morales against reliever Joe Smith in the eighth inning, a shot that gave the Angels first baseman a team-leading 27 homers this season.

"That's the best we've seen Masterson throw the ball," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. "We saw him mostly out of the bullpen, but he has terrific stuff, and when he's getting it into good zone, he can pitch well."

So does Lackey, who had been one of baseball's best pitchers since mid-July, going 5-1 with a 1.89 earned-run average in his previous seven starts. The right-hander was strong through five innings Thursday, limiting Cleveland to one run and two hits.

But it all unraveled in the sixth, which Shin Soo Choo and Jhonny Peralta opened with singles.

Travis Hafner, who stranded nine runners in the first two games of the series, laced a run-scoring double down the right-field line to break a 1-1 tie.

Luis Valbuena walked on four pitches to load the bases, and Kelly Shoppach hit a sacrifice fly to center.

Matt LaPorta, the highly touted power-hitting prospect who was acquired from Milwaukee in last year's CC Sabathia trade and recalled from triple A on Wednesday, lined a two-run double to left, knocking Lackey out of the game.

Andy Marte greeted reliever Matt Palmer with a run-scoring single to center, Grady Sizemore singled to right, and Asdrubal Cabrera drove in two more runs with a double to left-center. Choo lined into a double play to end the inning.

The Indians tagged Palmer and reliever Shane Loux for five runs. Lackey's final line: 5 1/3 innings, six runs, six hits, three walks and four strikeouts.

"I don't know if it was one thing John was or wasn't doing," Scioscia said of the sixth inning. "Up to that point, he was throwing the ball very well.

"He got behind a couple of guys and gave up a big hit to LaPorta. He couldn't put him away with a full-count breaking ball. But give those guys credit. They strung together some good at-bats, and we didn't get much going offensively."

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mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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