ANAHEIM -- Francisco Lindor crushed a two-run, tiebreaking home run off Yusmeiro Petit to help lift the Indians to a slim 6-5 win over the Angels on Wednesday night, putting the Tribe within one game of the Dodgers for the best record in the Major Leagues.By winning 26 of their
ANAHEIM -- Francisco Lindor crushed a two-run, tiebreaking home run off Yusmeiro Petit to help lift the Indians to a slim 6-5 win over the Angels on Wednesday night, putting the Tribe within one game of the Dodgers for the best record in the Major Leagues.
By winning 26 of their past 27 games, the Indians have all but erased the 20-game gap that was between them and the Dodgers as recently as Aug. 25. Cleveland's lead for the American League's best record remains 1 1/2 games, as Houston kept pace with a 4-3 win over the White Sox.
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"We did a lot of good things tonight," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "And I thought they did a lot of good things. That was a fun game to be a part of. That looked like two teams that really wanted to win."
The Angels, who have now lost 10 consecutive games to the Indians and eight of their last 12 overall, missed another chance to gain ground in the race for the second AL Wild Card spot, staying 1 1/2 games behind the Twins, who took an 11-3 loss to the Yankees.
With this one tied, 2-2, in the seventh, Lindor hammered a first-pitch fastball from Petit to right-center field to put Cleveland ahead, 4-2. Lindor's 31 home runs this season are the most in MLB history by a switch-hitting shortstop, passing Jimmy Rollins (2007) and Jose Valentin (2003).
"It's an honor, a blessing," Lindor said. "I'm blessed to play this game day in and day out, and to be named along with all those great shortstops that have played the game. That's something special. That's something that'll be there for, probably, one more year. Somebody will come in and do it."
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Jose Pujols launched a solo home run off former Halos reliever Joe Smith to cut the Indians' lead to 6-5 in the eighth, but Bryan Shaw pitched two scoreless innings to shut the door for Cleveland.
"I thought we hit the ball well tonight," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "They did a good job. They mixed and matched and held the lead. It's one of those nights where our bullpen, which has been there the whole season, just stubbed its toe a little bit. But outside of that, on the offensive side, I thought we pressured them and did some good things. Just fell a run short of tying it."
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Josh Tomlin gave up two runs on seven hits over 5 1/3 innings for the Indians. C.J. Cron inflicted all the damage against the right-hander, with an RBI single in the second and a home run that tied the game, 2-2, in the fifth.
Angels right-hander Ricky Nolasco needed 92 pitches to get through five innings, allowing two runs on five hits while walking three (one intentional) and striking out four. Nolasco escaped a first-inning jam with some help from shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who bobbled a popup into shallow left-center off the bat of Jay Bruce but then snatched the ball out of the air barehanded as he fell to his back, ending the inning.
"I'm glad he [recovered], because it was a long first," Nolasco said. "That lineup is really good, so you kind of give those guys opportunities like that, it just seems like it haunts you a little bit. I'm just glad he held on."
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MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Indians bat around: The Indians broke the 2-2 deadlock by scoring three runs in the seventh off the Angels' bullpen. Giovanny Urshela led off the inning with a single to left, and Lindor followed by launching his tiebreaking homer off Petit. Austin Jackson kept the rally going with a single and later scored on Edwin Encarnacion's base hit to make it 5-2. The Indians loaded the bases after Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis delivered back-to-back singles with two outs, but Los Angeles righty Keynan Middleton induced a groundout from Roberto Perez to prevent Cleveland from extending its lead.
"Every run is important, especially against the Angels," Lindor said. "They've got a great-hitting team and they can come back at any time. Every run is important. That's why we try not to take the game for granted. At the end of the day, anything can happen."
Shaw's save: One day after logging 24 pitches in a rocky appearance against the Angels, Shaw volunteered to tackle two innings to give closer Cody Allen and relief ace Andrew Miller some rest. Shaw set down all six hitters he faced, including a strikeout of Trout to end the game. It marked the first two-inning save of Shaw's career.
"Everybody saw what we did in the postseason last year with our bullpen and how it was run," Shaw said. "So, any time we can get guys rest, it's a positive for later on."
Angels trim the deficit: The Angels responded by scoring twice in the bottom half of the seventh to tighten the game, 5-4. After pinch-hitter Ben Revere singled off Smith with two outs, Brandon Phillips sliced a double to right field that Bruce bobbled, allowing Revere to score from first. That brought up Michael Trout, who blooped a double to right to plate Phillips and bring the Angels within one. Still, Smith stranded Trout at second by coaxing an inning-ending groundout from Justin Upton.
"We're trying to go out there and get as many wins as possible so we can make it to the playoffs, but we have to do the key things in key situations to make that possible," Phillips said.
"So often, he does a lot of the heavy lifting. When you don't finish the game, maybe people overlook it -- not us. But, man, he came in and did a great job tonight. That was not easy. We gave him the option after the eighth. I said, 'If you want [the ninth], it's yours.' And he did. He did a really good job." -- Francona, on Shaw
"When you start off the West Coast stretch with two wins, that's good. That's a good team over there, so you want to come over here and play your best baseball and try to beat them. We understand they're in the Wild Card hunt, so they're going to be bringing it, just like us."-- Tomlin
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This was the Indians' 13th straight road victory, breaking the previous franchise record of 12, set in 1922.
Indians: Right-hander Danny Salazar (5-6, 4.52 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Tribe in Thursday's 4:07 p.m. ET tilt at Angel Stadium. Salazar, who has been in the bullpen after returning from arm troubles, is making a start to help Cleveland gauge whether he might fit into the postseason-roster plans in the rotation or as a reliever.
Angels: Rookie right-hander Parker Bridwell (8-2, 3.71 ERA) will start Thursday afternoon's series finale against the Indians, set for 1:05 p.m. PT at Angel Stadium. Bridwell, who will make his first career appearance against Cleveland, worked six scoreless innings against the Rangers on Saturday.
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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.
Maria Guardado** covers the Angels for MLB.com.