ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Everything clicked for the Cleveland
Indians, thanks to a revamped lineup that had a positive effect on
almost everyone in it.
Ben Broussard homered and had three hits in his first game in
the cleanup spot this season, helping the Indians beat the Los
Angeles Angels 9-3 on Wednesday.
"I love hitting in the middle of the order, wherever it's at,"
Broussard said. "That's where I hit my whole career in the minor
leagues, the 3-4 spot. But we've got some real good 3-4 guys on
this team, so I'm fine hitting 5, 6, whatever they need me to hit.
"We've been kind of tweaking the lineup all year, trying to get
it going and find the right mixture. That's the way it is when
you're scuffling. It was a good feeling today, to be in there and
have some situations where guys in front of you were getting on
Jhonny Peralta and Casey Blake hit solo homers in the eighth
inning for the Indians, who finished 5-4 on their road trip by
taking two of three from the defending AL West champions. Coco
Crisp went 3-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI single.
Cliff Lee (4-1) shrugged off Jose Molina's two-run homer in the
second and won for the third time in four starts, allowing three
runs -- two earned -- and five hits in six innings. The left-hander
struck out four and walked none.
Cleveland manager Eric Wedge shuffled his batting order against
Kelvim Escobar (1-2) in an attempt to wake up an offense that had
produced just 10 runs in its previous four games. Escobar allowed
four runs and six hits in five innings, striking out nine.
Grady Sizemore, one of five players to hit leadoff in the past
two weeks, was at the top of the order for the second time. Blake,
who led off in the first two games of the series, hit second.
Ronnie Belliard batted in the fifth spot after making all 26 of his
previous starts as the No. 2 hitter.
"Casey had some success in the 2 hole that kind of got him
going last year, and Grady's had some experience up top," Wedge
said. "Offensively, this was arguably one of our best days of the
year -- if not the best. And they kept it going, too, which is
something we hadn't been doing. So that was important."
Sizemore and Blake both struck out their first two times up. But
in the third, Sizemore singled, Blake doubled and Travis Hafner
drove in Sizemore with a groundout to put Cleveland ahead 4-3.
Until then, Indians leadoff batters had scored only one run in the
previous 13 games.
Escobar struck out the side in the first inning on 13 pitches,
but Broussard led off the second with a drive to right-center for
his second homer, jump-starting Cleveland's 13-hit assault.
"The guys did a good job of beating a really tough pitcher,"
Broussard said. "Escobar has the kind of stuff that sometimes
seams unhittable, so you've just got to concentrate and battle and
hope he makes some mistakes."
Crisp, moved into the sixth spot Tuesday night after batting no
lower than second through the first 31 games, greeted reliever
Esteban Yan with a leadoff double in the sixth and scored on
Sizemore followed with an RBI double that made it 6-3 and Crisp
added an RBI single in the seventh. The Los Angeles native finished
the series 7-for-11 with two homers, three RBI, three doubles,
three stolen bases and six runs.
The Indians batted .275 in the three-game series, 42 points
above their season average.
Molina gave the Angels a 3-1 lead in the second with his second
homer after a leadoff single by Dallas McPherson. But Lee retired
his last 13 batters after giving up Steve Finley's two-out double
in the second. Last year, Lee started out 10-1 with the only loss
coming in Anaheim.
"That's what happens when you get any pitcher on the ropes and
let him settle into his game," said Finley, who left in the
seventh because of tightness in his groin. "Lee started throwing
good quality strikes, and the rest is history. They came back and
scored the runs to put them ahead and that was the ballgame."
Angels first baseman Darin Erstad, in a 4-for-36 slump that has
dropped his average to .241, sat out for the first time this
Angels pitching coach Bud Black, who has turned down
several managing opportunities since the team's 2002 World Series
title, said he would have to listen if Kansas City contacted him
about replacing Tony Pena. "Obviously, it would be flattering,"
said Black, who spent seven seasons with the Royals and helped them
win a world championship in 1985. "My formative years in the game
were shaped by the Royals. But like I've said over the last couple
of years, I would have to look at the situation and see whether the
timing's right for me and my family to even explore that -- if it
was brought to my attention that I might be considered." ...
Cleveland 3B Aaron Boone does not have an RBI in his last 11 games,
and has just 11 hits in his last 88 at-bats.