CLEVELAND -- After an all-around great performance in Tuesday's series opener between the Indians and the Angels, Bradley Zimmer came through once again for the Tribe on Wednesday night at Progressive Field. Zimmer laced a go-ahead RBI double in the seventh inning before the Indians erupted with a seven-run eighth en route to a 10-4 win over the Angels and their sixth straight victory.
Zimmer's clutch hit came off a 3-2 slider from Angels starter Ricky Nolasco, and the Tribe's rookie center fielder drilled it off the 19-foot wall in left to score Austin Jackson from first. This came after he hit his first career leadoff homer in the bottom of the first -- his seventh home run of the season.
"It's huge," Zimmer said of his go-ahead double. "It's a great feeling, obviously, for me, and for our team moving forward it's even greater. I'm happy I got the hit there and put us back on top."
Yan Gomes and Erik Gonzalez each finished with two RBIs. In addition, Carlos Santana, Jackson, Michael Brantley and Brandon Guyer added RBI knocks late, helping the Indians maintain their 1 1/2-game lead over the Royals in the American League Central.
The Angels' loss, coupled with the Royals' eighth straight win, dropped the Angels five games back of the second AL Wild Card spot with four games left to play until the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"We have to go out there and play our game," Angels center fielder Michael Trout said. "Once we start looking at the standings, that's when we're going to get in trouble and try to do too much. We just have to go out there and play and try to win."
Nolasco was handed his 12th loss of the season after going 6 2/3 innings. He was charged with three runs on nine hits and two walks while striking out four on 119 pitches -- his most pitches thrown in a start in four years.
"I thought he worked around some early command issues, and when he finally settled in, he got on a good run for us," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He maintained his stuff through a high pitch count and unfortunately couldn't get that one last out in the seventh inning. But he definitely gave us a chance to win."
• Nolasco keeps Angels in it with 119-pitch effort
Indians starter Carlos Carrasco received a no-decision after he allowed two runs on six hits with no walks and five strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings. At one point, he retired seven in a row before allowing a game-tying homer to Luis Valbuena in the seventh. The Angels added two runs in the ninth off Indians reliever Dan Otero.
"I didn't think he had certainly his best command," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "[Pitching coach Mickey Callaway] and I were talking, you look up, that was before the home run, giving up one run. Ends up giving up two. That says a lot about him. Not sure a couple years ago that would've happened on a night when maybe he didn't have his best stuff. He pitched. He kind of bobbed and weaved a little bit and did a good job."
• Valuable Shaw gets job done with game on line
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Valbuena ties it up: After driving in the Angels' first run with an RBI double in the second inning, Valbuena came through once again in the seventh. Carrasco left a 2-1 fastball over the plate, and Valbuena did not miss it, sending it to the bullpen beyond the right-center-field wall to tie the game at 2. Valbuena's homer was a projected 438 feet, per Statcast™, his longest homer since Statcast™ first started tracking in 2015. Five of Valbuena's seven hits in the second half have been home runs, bringing his total to 11 on the season.
Insurance runs: The Indians added to their 3-2 lead in the bottom of the eighth with a seven-run rally against Angels relievers Cam Bedrosian and Brooks Pounders to put the game out of reach. With two on and one out, Santana and Jackson connected for back-to-back RBI singles before Gomes drilled an RBI double off the wall in left. The next batter, Gonzalez, laced a two-run single to center, and later in the inning, Brantley and Guyer capped the rally with back-to-back RBI singles.
"That was [big]," Francona said, "especially with the guys that were coming up [for them]. We were able to stay away from Cody [Allen] because of that. Maybe that helps us win a game tomorrow."
"Cam, the ball just wasn't coming out the way we're used to seeing it tonight," Scioscia said. "He was a little erratic with his command, didn't look like his breaking ball was sharp. We'll turn the page on that one."
"Austin Jackson came back, looks like he's in midseason form. That's the second time now when he's come back from the Minor Leagues on his rehab. He's done it correctly and he's ready to play when he comes back." -- Francona, on Jackson's performance since returning from the disabled list on Tuesday
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
With runners on first and second with no outs in the bottom of the fourth, Santana ripped a single to Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun. The Indians opted to test Calhoun's arm, as Edwin Encarnacion was waived around to try to score from second. Calhoun, however, made a strong throw to catcher Martin Maldonado, who slapped the tag on Encarnacion's foot to record the out. The Indians challenged the play, but the call was confirmed. Per Statcast™, Calhoun's throw clocked in at 94.9 mph, making it the Angels' hardest outfield throw of the season.
Angels: Right-hander JC Ramirez (9-8, 4.38 ERA) will start for the Angels in Thursday's series finale against the Indians at 9:10 a.m. PT at Progressive Field. Ramirez has faced Cleveland four times in relief, recording a 5.06 ERA over 5 1/3 innings.
Indians: The Indians will send right-hander Trevor Bauer (8-8, 5.58 ERA) to the mound for Thursday's 12:10 p.m. ET contest. Bauer is coming off his eighth win, and he'll try to lead the Tribe to its seventh consecutive victory.
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