Indians Hold Off Halos, Pull Within One Game of MLB’s Best Record; Indians 6, Angels 5

The Cleveland Indians played spoilers once again as they defeated the Los Angeles Angels, 6-5, from Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday night.

The final score was a little closer than the Indians may have wanted, but the end result was the same as it had been in 26 of the team’s last 27 games. Another victory moved the Tribe to 95-57, but even more importantly, Cleveland is now one game behind the Angels’ California neighbor, the Los Angeles Dodgers (96-56), who dropped a 7-5 final in Philadelphia to the Phillies. The Indians maintained their lead over Houston (93-58) for the best record in the junior circuit, with the Astros victorious over the Chicago White Sox Wednesday.

The Angels (76-75) missed a chance to pick up a needed game in their own playoff pursuits, as the Minnesota Twins were shelled by the New York Yankees earlier in the evening. The Twins lead the Angels by a game and a half for the second AL Wild Card spot.

The two clubs kept the contest close all night long on Wednesday and missed out on early scoring chances. The Indians put two on with two outs in the first against Angels starter Ricky Nolasco after a double by Jose Ramirez and a walk by Edwin Encarnacion, but Jay Bruce popped out to short. Justin Upton gave Los Angeles its own two-out double with a drive to deep center in the bottom of the inning, but Albert Pujols would be cut down on strikes by Josh Tomlin to keep the game scoreless.

The Indians took the first lead of the night in the second with back-to-back extra base hits. Carlos Santana led off the frame with a double towards the right field corner. Jason Kipnis hit his own double to the gap in right-center to plate Santana to put Cleveland up, 1-0.

Bruce - Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
Bruce – Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Angels kept the pressure on in the home half of the second. Kole Calhoun doubled to right and moved to third on a single by Andrelton Simmons. Luis Valbuena struck out swinging for the first out, but C.J. Cron dropped in a single to left-center to score Calhoun. Tomlin would prevent further harm and worked out of the inning, getting Martin Maldonado and Brandon Phillips to ground out, leaving a pair stranded in scoring position.

The game remained tied until the top of the fourth, when the Indians got another big double to reclaim the lead. Bruce singled and moved up on a walk by Santana. Kipnis grounded into a force at second and Roberto Perez struck out swinging, but Giovanny Urshela delivered with a clutch two-out double down the left field line to drive in Bruce. Nolasco got out of the jam after intentionally walking Francisco Lindor by getting Austin Jackson to ground out to third with the bases loaded, keeping it a 2-1 game.

The Angels went down in order in the bottom of the fourth but would not do the same in the fifth as Cron started the inning with a solo homer to deep left, tying the game at two. Phillips later doubled with one out, but would advance no further as Tomlin escaped in magic act fashion by getting Mike Trout to fly to left and Upton to ground to short.

Things would get away from the Angels in the seventh. Yusmeiro Petit began the seventh, his second inning of work, but Urshela sent a curveball back into center for a single. After catcher Maldonado went to the mound, Lindor drove the first pitch that he saw deep to the gap in right-center and over the wall for a two-run blast. His 31st of the year, which included some jawing with Maldonado several times after making contact with the pitch, put the Tribe back on top, 4-2. Petit would turn the game over to Keynan Middleton after giving up a single to Jackson and striking out Ramirez for the first out. With a runner on second after Jackson’s stolen base, Encarnacion came through with a single off of the hard-throwing right-hander to score the base runner with the fifth run of the night. The Indians would reload the bases, but Perez grounded to third to retire the side.

The Angels struck through against their former reliever Joe Smith in the seventh inning, making it a ball game again. After Tyler Olson struck out pinch-hitter Cliff Pennington, Smith came on and got Cron to ground out. The Angels then put together three straight hits to cut their deficit to one. Smith gave up an infield single to the speedy Ben Revere. Phillips socked his former club with a double to right and Trout doubled him home from third to make it a 5-4 game. With the tying run in scoring position and two out, Smith worked out of it and got Upton to ground to third for a big out in the contest.

Cleveland got one of the runs back in the eighth. With Eduardo Paredes on for his first look of the night, he got outs from Urshela and Lindor before Jackson doubled to the wall in center. Ramirez followed with a single to left but would be thrown out trying to stretch his hit to a double. The run scored before he was erased for the final out, giving the Indians a needed insurance run while extending their lead to 6-4.

Smith returned for the eighth, but was greeted rudely by his former club. Pujols caught a mistake 1-1 pitch from Smith and relocated it well over 400 feet to center field, slashing the Indians’ lead down to one at 6-5. Craig Breslow came on and walked the only batter that he faced before Bryan Shaw was needed to get the final three outs of the inning and did so while preventing the tying run from crossing. He came back out in the ninth, getting a pair of strikeouts around a grounder to third to earn his third save of the season while doing so in multi-inning fashion.

Tomlin - Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
Tomlin – Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Olson earned his first win of the season after working a scoreless inning. He struck out one and walked one. Shaw kept the Angels off of the board in his two innings, striking out three on the night while sparing his back end teammates from extra work.

Tomlin once again came up short in his bid for the fifth ten-win season by Indians starters this season. The veteran right-hander worked five and one-third innings, giving up two runs on seven hits with five strikeouts and zero walks. Nolasco was spared his 15th loss of the season, but still allowed two runs on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts in five innings of work.

Petit and Smith were each charged with three earned runs in relief.

Five different Tribe batters had two hits on the night (Jackson, Ramirez, Santana, Kipnis, and Urshela). Lindor led the way with two RBI and his 31st homer. Jackson scored a pair of runs.

The Indians will go for the season sweep of the Angels in the series finale on Thursday afternoon. Right-hander Danny Salazar (5-6, 4.52) will get a surprise start for the Tribe while looking to make a case for postseason consideration. He has worked just three innings in two relief appearances since being removed from the starting rotation after a disastrous outing on September 5 in Chicago. Right-hander Parker Bridwell (8-2, 3.71) will look to keep the Angels’ postseason hopes alive. While his 8-2 mark is impressive, the Angels have been even better in his starts overall, going 16-2 in games that he has taken the mound. He threw six scoreless innings in his last start, allowing just three hits against Texas.

First pitch from Angel Stadium is scheduled for 4:07 PM ET.

Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

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