CLEVELAND -- Justin Masterson was brought to Cleveland to be a starting pitcher and he played the role nicely Thursday night.
Masterson pitched into the seventh inning, rookie Matt LaPorta had a career-high three RBIs and the Indians battered Los Angeles Angels starter John Lackey in an 11-3 victory.Making his third start for the Indians, Masterson (4-4) did not allow an earned run in 6 1/3 innings to win for the first time since being acquired from Boston in the trade for Victor Martinez hours before the July 31 trade deadline.Masterson alternated between starting and relieving with the Red Sox. In Cleveland, his future is clear."We wouldn't have put this kind of time and effort into him and built him up the right way if we didn't feel he was very capable of being a starter," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "He's already proven he can have success with it. There's just such a premium on starting pitching. We know he can be successful in the bullpen and we feel like he can be successful as a starter, too."Masterson fell one out shy of his career high in innings, allowing an unearned run, three hits and four walks while striking out three and throwing 110 pitches. He fared much better than his last start against Minnesota, when he was charged with six earned runs in 3 1/3 innings."We took him a little farther than we wanted to," Wedge said. "To still be strong with that type of pitch count, that says a lot to how far he's come in a short period of time."Masterson sailed through six innings, allowing the unearned run in the first, before tiring in the seventh. He left with the bases loaded and one out, but reliever Tony Sipp came on to end the threat."That's probably the best we've seen him throw the ball," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We saw him mostly out of the bullpen [in Boston]. He has terrific stuff. When he's getting it into good zones, he can pitch like he did tonight."Leaving a pennant race in Boston for the rebuilding project in Cleveland was initially disappointing. But it only took about an hour for Masterson to get over it."That's the tough dilemma," he said. "In the long run, this could be a great thing for my career, but for the short term ... the thought that goes into my head is, 'OK, we have a lot to look forward to next season and after."Jhonny Peralta had two singles and a double to lead seven Cleveland batters with at least two hits. The Indians scored 11 runs in a game for the second time this month.LaPorta, making his first appearance since being recalled from Triple-A Columbus on Wednesday, doubled home two runs in the seven-run sixth inning, then added a sacrifice fly in the seventh. He started in left field and batted eighth.This is LaPorta's second stint with Cleveland after batting .190 in 13 games over 26 days during a May callup. The Indians were still trying to contend then and LaPorta was caught in a numbers crunch. This time, the centerpiece of the CC Sabathia trade with Milwaukee last summer is expected to play regularly between first base and the outfield."That will take off some of the pressure to know if you have one bad game, you can come out the next day and have a great game," LaPorta said. "But you still have to continue with the right approach and right focus. That's my main goal."Lackey (8-6) was denied his 100th career victory when eight of the first nine Indians reached to start the sixth.Travis Hafner ended a 1-for-14 skid with an RBI double, LaPorta and Asdrubal Cabrera both had two-run doubles and Andy Marte added an RBI single in the inning.Lackey was charged with six runs in 5 1/3 innings, his worst start since July 7, when he allowed six runs in 4 2/3 innings in a loss to Texas. Since then, Lackey had been 5-1 with a 1.89 ERA in his previous seven starts."It's disappointing," Lackey said. "It's a game you feel like you should win. They put together a big inning and got after us. The other guy pitched well. You've got to give him some credit, too."
SS Erick Aybar's throwing error in the first ended the Angels' errorless streak at 59 innings. ... Angels 1B Kendry Morales' two-run homer in the eighth gives him a league-high 32 RBIs during the second half of the season. ... Angels LF Juan Rivera's triple in the eighth was his first since July 28, 2005 at Toronto. ... Indians RF Shin-Soo Choo hit .545 (12 for 22) against the Angels this year.