ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Justin Masterson pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Nick Swisher hit a two-run homer and the Cleveland Indians completed a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels with a 3-1 victory Wednesday.
The Indians, who began the day 5 1/2 games behind first-place Detroit in the AL Central and 3 1/2 behind Oakland in the race for the second wild card spot, improved to 69-58 and surpassed last season’s win total with 35 games to spare.
The injury-ravaged Angels have lost 13 of their last 17 and are a season-worst 16 games under .500 this late in the season for the first time since 1999, the year before Mike Scioscia became manager. All-Star outfielder Mike Trout missed his third straight game because of tightness in his right hamstring — leaving his on-base streak of 40 consecutive games on hold.
Masterson (14-9) allowed a run and five hits over 6 2-3 innings, tied a season high with five walks and struck out seven just 10 days after giving up five runs over 4 1-3 innings against the Angels at Cleveland in his shortest outing of the season. The right-hander, who made his big league debut against the Angels in April 2008, is 4-0 with a 1.87 ERA in nine career starts against them.
The Angels put the potential tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position in the seventh before Masterson fanned Erick Aybar with his 110th and final pitch for the second out. Rich Hill came on and retired Josh Hamilton with a tremendous assist from third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, who robbed the Angels’ slugger of a hit with a diving stop in the hole and threw him out.
The Indians got an insurance run in the ninth when Mike Aviles scored on Dane De La Rosa’s second wild pitch of the inning.
Cody Allen pitched a scoreless eighth for Cleveland and Chris Perez got three outs for his 20th save in 24 attempts. The Indians’ bullpen had a 1.29 ERA and stranded 24 of 25 inherited baserunners during the team’s 6-3 road trip.
Jerome Williams (5-10) yielded two runs and six hits in 6 1-3 innings with six strikeouts and two walks. The right-hander is 0-8 with a 6.79 ERA over his last 12 starts and his only victory at home this season came in a 12-0 rout of Seattle on May 21.
The Indians grabbed a 2-0 lead in the third when Bourne led off with a triple and Swisher followed with his 15th homer, driving a 2-2 pitch into the right field pavilion. It was the 20th allowed this season by Williams, who is 1-13 in the last 18 starts in which he’s allowed a home run.
The Angels scored in the sixth when Hamilton led off with a single and came all the way around on Hank Conger’s one-out double into the right field corner. Los Angeles put runners at the corners in the second and fourth innings, but Masterson escaped the first jam with a strikeout and the second on a flyout.
NOTES: Andrew Romine started at second base for Angels for the first time this season in place of Howie Kendrick, who has missed 15 games because of a hyperextended left knee. … Indians DH Jason Giambi doubled in the second inning, putting him within two hits of 2,000. … Masterson, who became a full-time starter in 2010, reached the 1,000-inning mark for his career when he fielded Bourjos’ leadoff bunt in the fifth and threw him out. … The Indians are 42-39 since May 23, the last time they led their division. … Cleveland LF Michael Brantley, who broke Rocky Colavito’s franchise record of 212 consecutive errorless games by an outfielder in Monday’s series opener, has committed only six errors since beginning his big league career in 2009. … Bourjos ended an 0-for-21 drought with a bunt single in the seventh. … Swisher has two hits in nine career at-bats against Williams, both of them homers.