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Clevinger sends Tribe closer to AL's top seed

MLB.com

ANAHEIM -- Mike Clevinger enjoyed some revenge against his former club on Tuesday night, tossing six innings of one-run ball to lead the Indians to a 6-3 win over the Angels in their series opener at Angel Stadium.

Clevinger, whom the Angels traded to Cleveland in exchange for reliever Vinnie Pestano in 2014, held the Halos hitless through the first four innings before yielding a leadoff single to Kole Calhoun in the fifth. The right-hander conceded only three hits while walking two and striking out six, lowering his ERA to 0.61 over his last five starts.

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ANAHEIM -- Mike Clevinger enjoyed some revenge against his former club on Tuesday night, tossing six innings of one-run ball to lead the Indians to a 6-3 win over the Angels in their series opener at Angel Stadium.

Clevinger, whom the Angels traded to Cleveland in exchange for reliever Vinnie Pestano in 2014, held the Halos hitless through the first four innings before yielding a leadoff single to Kole Calhoun in the fifth. The right-hander conceded only three hits while walking two and striking out six, lowering his ERA to 0.61 over his last five starts.

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"He pitched well against us over in Cleveland, too," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Clevinger. "He's got a good arm. He pounds the zone. He had the ball down, used his slider, offspeed pitches. He kept us off balance; we didn't get too many good looks at him."

Clevinger enjoyed his first career trip to the Angel Stadium mound, even though it was not the way he envisioned it when he was a pitching prospect.

"There's always a little extra edge," Clevinger said of facing the Angels. "I remember coming here and watching an Angels game from the stands and waiting for my time to be on that mound. I didn't picture it being in a Cleveland Indians uniform at the time. I'm happy it is."

The Indians are only two games back of the Dodgers for the best record in the Majors and remain 1 1/2 games ahead of the Astros for the best record in the American League. The Angels, who have lost nine straight to Cleveland, remain 1 1/2 games back of the Twins for the second AL Wild Card spot with 12 games left to play.

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Video: CLE@LAA: Jackson tallies four hits against the Angels

Austin Jackson went 4-for-5 with an RBI single, and Roberto Perez homered to help fuel Cleveland's victory. Jay Bruce went 3-for-4 with an RBI double and finished a home run shy of the cycle.

Left-hander Tyler Skaggs took the loss after allowing two runs on eight hits over 5 1/3 innings for the Angels. Brandon Phillips' two-out RBI single brought the Angels within 3-2 in the eighth, but the Indians scored three runs in the ninth off Bud Norris to build a four-run lead.

"We had opportunities," Mike Trout said. "But we just fell short."

Solving Tribe is paramount to Halos' chances

Justin Upton hit his career-high 32nd homer leading off the bottom of the inning to make it 6-3, but Cody Allen retired the next three batters, with Indians rookie center fielder Greg Allen making an impressive catch of an Andrelton Simmons liner to end the game. Allen covered 53 feet in 3.5 seconds to record a five-star catch, reeling in a ball that Statcast™ gave a catch probability of only 24 percent.

Video: CLE@LAA: Allen makes a diving grab to end the game

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Perez goes deep: Perez added some cushion to the Indians' slim 1-0 lead by hammering a solo home run off Skaggs in the fifth. Perez smoked a 1-0 fastball 411 feet to the opposite field, collecting his seventh home run of the season. The backstop has been swinging a hot bat over the last few weeks, slashing .358/.414/.774 with six homers and 19 RBIs over his last 18 games (58 plate appearances).

"When he hits the ball to right field like that, like a lot of hitters, he's more dangerous," Francona said. "He's strong enough to get rewarded for hits that way. It allows him to stay on the breaking ball a little bit longer."

Perez lauded for impact on Indians' run

Video: CLE@LAA: Perez drives a solo homer to right field

Clevinger limits damage: After being stymied by Clevinger through the first four innings, the Angels threatened in the fifth after Calhoun and Simmons strung together back-to-back singles to put runners on first and third with no outs. Clevinger helped undercut the rally by catching Simmons leaning at first, though he then issued a one-out walk to Luis Valbuena. After C.J. Cron struck out, the Indians escaped the jam by catching Valbuena in a rundown on a double-steal attempt, but Calhoun scored on the play to cut the deficit to 2-1.

"Man, you know what? Clevinger has been outstanding," Perez said. "That inning was huge. I think that was the game right there. He came back, first and third, no outs, got that pickoff play and then the strikeout. It was nice to see Clevinger keep doing what he's doing."

Video: CLE@LAA: Calhoun scores as Valbuena gets in rundown

Allen steals a run: Before Allen showed off his defense in the bottom of the ninth, he showed off his speed as an offensive threat in the top of the inning. Allen pulled a single into right and then pulled off the first stolen base of his career. That sprint by the fleet-footed center fielder proved critical, too. With first base open, the Angels issued a two-out, intentional walk to Francisco Lindor. Jackson then dumped a pitch into right for a bloop single (his fourth hit of the night) and Allen flashed that speed again, scoring from second to put the Indians up, 4-2.

"It's good to see him confident enough to do that," Francona said of Allen's steal. "Every time he plays, he's going to learn something. He's real attentive. I'm sure he was excited. He probably had his family here tonight. That was good for him."

Video: CLE@LAA: Allen swipes second for first MLB steal

QUOTABLE
"Luckily they didn't all ask me for tickets, because it probably would've been 25 or 30. There's quite a few. My mom's side, my extended family that lives out here -- great aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, grandma. I was out there right now, talking to them all, taking pictures, saying hi. It took a while. It was fun. It was so good to see them." -- Greg Allen, on his family seeing him play in the Majors for the first time

WHAT'S NEXT
Indians: Right-hander Josh Tomlin (9-9, 5.04 ERA) is scheduled to take the ball for the Tribe in Wednesday's 10:07 p.m. ET tilt against the Angels at Angel Stadium. Over his past seven turns for the Tribe, Tomlin has gone 6-1 with a 2.66 ERA and 31 strikeouts against three walks in 40 2/3 innings.

Angels: Right-hander Ricky Nolasco (6-14, 5.11 ERA) will take the mound for the Angels on Wednesday as they continue their three-game series against the Indians at 7:07 p.m. PT at Angel Stadium. In eight career appearances against Cleveland, Nolasco is 0-3 with a 5.32 ERA.

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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.

Mike Clevinger, Austin Jackson, Roberto Perez