OAKLAND, Calif. -- Jason Kipnis is still adjusting to his role as Cleveland's full-time second baseman. His comfort level at the plate is finally starting to come around, too.
The Indians are also getting comfortable on the road after their own sluggish start at home.Kipnis drove in three runs and scored twice, and Cleveland extended its best road trip in more than 20 years with a 5-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Saturday night."This team's rolling right now," said Kipnis, who went 4 for 5. "(We're) getting used to winning and that's how it needs to be. We feel we've got a good order 1-9, and the pitching staff does a great job putting us in position to win every day."Jeanmar Gomez and five relievers combined to limit the A's to eight hits but it was Cleveland's offense that stood out.The Indians pounded out 14 hits for the second time in six games and scored four of their five runs with two outs. Cleveland has scored 27 runs with two outs on its current road trip.That's been a prime factor in manager Manny Acta's club winning seven of eight on its nine-game swing. Cleveland is also assured it will win its first three series on the road for the first time since 1988."I don't think you could plan it any better," Acta said. "I was envisioning playing over .500 but winning three series is fantastic. We're pretty happy with the way things have gone so far."Jason Donald had two hits and scored twice while Travis Hafner and Jack Hannahan added two hits apiece for the surging Indians.Cliff Pennington doubled and scored the only run for the A's. It's the sixth time in 16 games Oakland has been held to one run or fewer."The root of it is guys trying to do too much with runners in scoring position," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "They put pressure on themselves instead of remembering the pressure is more on the pitcher."That was part of Kipnis' problem when the season began.He went into the game batting just .167 but had a part in all the Indians' scoring Saturday. Kipnis singled and scored on Travis Hafner's groundout in the first, drove in Jason Donald with a two-out hit in the sixth, tripled in a pair of runs in the eighth then scored again on a wild pitch."It was nice to finally be able to contribute with the bat," Kipnis said. "You just want to make sure you have a good approach and swing at the right pitches. There's really not much else you can do."Gomez (1-0) teamed with the bullpen to silence the A's offense on a night Cleveland's own offense struggled to hit with runners in scoring position.The Indians right-hander scattered four hits with three strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings for the win despite a sluggish start. Gomez gave up three hits and a walk in the first two innings before retiring 11 consecutive batters until Pennington's leadoff double in the sixth.Gomez got Josh Reddick on a long fly out to center that moved Pennington to third, then reliever Dan Wheeler allowed a sacrifice fly to Yoenis Cespedes that trimmed Cleveland's lead to 2-1."This guy hasn't thrown more than two innings since like the third week in March but he got better as the game went on," Acta said. "He didn't have his best stuff but he did battle. He gave us as much as he could."Chris Perez, the last of five Cleveland relievers, pitched the ninth for his sixth save in seven tries.Cleveland needed pitching to bail out its offense. The Indians stranded 10 runners in the first seven innings before scoring three times in the eighth.Cleveland's first two runs came off Oakland starter Brandon McCarthy, who labored throughout the game and remained winless.McCarthy (0-3) had trouble locating his sinker most of the night and pitched with runners on base in seven innings. The A's lanky right-hander struck out four, walked three and threw a season-high 113 pitches.
Acta said Johnny Damon, signed to one-year minor league contract earlier in the week, needs to build up his stamina in the outfield before the team will call him up to the big league club. ... Before the game, the A's celebrated the 40th anniversary of their 1972 World Series championship team. Hall of Fame pitcher Rollie Fingers threw out the ceremonial first pitch. ... RHP Justin Masterson (0-1) tries to end his two-start slump for the Indians in Sunday's series finale. RHP Tyson Ross (0-0) is scheduled to pitch for the A's on his 25th birthday.