Indians end skid against A’s
OAKLAND – This is the Fausto Carmona the Cleveland Indians expect and need.
The right-hander, who pitched so poorly in 2009 that he was sent to the Arizona rookie league, looks a lot more like the 19-game winner he was three years ago.
Carmona shut down the Oakland Athletics by scattering seven hits over 7 1-3 innings and the Indians broke out of their scoring slump with a 6-1 victory Saturday.
“He really gave us a chance to get something going offensively, even if it was late in the game,” Cleveland manager Manny Acta said. “He threw strike one and continued to pound the strike zone regardless of their left-handed heavy lineup against him today.”
Mark Grudzielanek hit a tiebreaking RBI single with two outs in the eighth inning and the Indians scored five runs over the final two innings but it was Carmona’s day from the beginning.
Carmona (3-0) allowed only two runners past first base, both coming in the third inning when the A’s scored their run. Beyond that, the 6-foot-4 righty was stellar, striking out four with no walks while lowering his ERA to 2.96.
That’s exactly what the Indians were hoping for when they shipped Carmona to the Arizona rookie league last June. He spent his time there working on his mechanics, then picked up some key advice from former major league pitcher Jose Lima while pitching in the Dominican League.
Lima suggested Carmona shift his stance on the pitching mound from the right side of the rubber to the left to increase his effectiveness against left-handed hitters.
The results have been impressive. Carmona has three of Cleveland’s eight wins and called his win against Oakland his best outing of the season.
“I feel good,” Carmona said. “I worked on my mechanics and throwing strikes. That’s the key to the game for me. (Today) I was thinking about throwing strikes and keeping the ball down.”
Austin Kearns had three hits and three RBIs while Mike Redmond doubled and scored twice for Cleveland, which snapped a six-game losing streak to Oakland. It is only the Indians’ fourth win in their last 26 road games dating back to last season.
The A’s lost for the fourth time in six games and suffered a significant blow when starting pitcher Brett Anderson left the game after the sixth inning because of tightness in his left elbow.
Anderson, who gave up three hits and one run, had a similar injury in spring training last year but pitched through it. After the game he said he may have to miss his next start.
“We didn’t want to take any chances this early in the season,” said Anderson, who is winless since signing a $12.5 million, four-year contract with Oakland on April 16. “They talked about pushing me back a start but I shouldn’t miss too much time. It’s a cramp, muscle inflammation, but they said I would be good to go without missing too much time.”
Matt LaPorta led off the eighth with a single off Oakland reliever Chad Gaudin (0-2). Redmond then sacrificed pinch-runner Grady Sizemore to second, and after Asdrubal Cabrera grounded out, Grudzielanek hit a line drive to center to drive in Sizemore and break a 1-all tie.
Craig Breslow replaced Gaudin and gave up two more hits, including Kearns’ RBI single that made it 3-1. Cleveland then scored three times in the ninth to break the game open.
Carmona, whose only other wins this season came against the Chicago White Sox, was solid all afternoon but ran into trouble in the bottom of the eighth after giving up back-to-back one-out singles to Rajai Davis and Daric Barton. Reliever Tony Sipp got Ryan Sweeney to ground into an inning-ending double play, though, and Chris Perez worked a scoreless ninth for Cleveland.
Before breaking out of their scoring slump, the Indians had been starved for offense. They were shut out Friday night by three Oakland pitchers and had been held to one run or less in three of their previous four games.
NOTES: Cleveland closer Kerry Wood (back) will throw a bullpen session Sunday and then be reevaluated to determine where he goes next. Wood, who hasn’t pitched in a game since March 10, threw a one-inning simulated game Friday and afterward said he was sore. … Oakland 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff was given the day off after fouling a ball off his right foot. Kouzmanoff also has soreness in his right calf. … With an off day Monday, manager Bob Geren is considering resting Kouzmanoff on Sunday also. … A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki was a late scratch due to soreness in his left side. … Cabrera’s eight-game hitting streak ended.
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