Kearns powers Indians past Angels with HR, 5 RBIs

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Austin Kearns' reunion with manager Manny Acta has been quite beneficial for both of them.

Kearns homered for the second straight game and drove in five runs, leading the Cleveland Indians to a 9-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night. The nine-year veteran outfielder missed the final two months of last season with the Washington Nationals after undergoing surgery on his right thumb, and was invited to spring training by the Indians after signing a minor league contract on Jan. 5.

"This was the first time in the last five or six years where he had to come to spring training having to make a ballclub," Acta said. "I just told him, 'Hey, this is uncharted territory for you, but you have to battle because nothing's going to be given to you. I know what you can do, so just get out there and play.' He handled it very well, won a spot, and here he is."

Kearns has homered in consecutive games for the first time since Sept. 24-25, 2007. His homer in the eighth inning on Monday night against Brian Stokes was his first since April 26, 2009.

"The first year that I was in D.C., this guy played very good for me," Acta said. "But it was tough for him, because he signed a big contract over there. And knowing how much pride he has, he wanted to do produce and show people the type of player they signed. Unfortunately, he was beat up physically, but he continued to go out there and tried to prove his worth. And it didn't end up helping him at all."

Kearns capped a two-run third with an RBI double. He gave the Indians a 3-1 lead in the fifth with a first-pitch homer to left-center, and extended the margin to 7-1 with a three-run double in the eighth against Matt Palmer after an intentional walk to Choo. It was Kearns' ninth hit in his last 18 at-bats. The five RBIs were one shy of his career best, on Aug. 19, 2005.

Rookie Mitch Talbot (3-1) won his third straight start, allowing a run and six hits over 6 1/3 innings. The right-hander, who earned his first big league win with a complete game against the Chicago White Sox on April 16, has allowed two earned runs in 21 1/3 innings over his last three outings.

Bobby Abreu's RBI single in the third accounted for the Angels' only run off Talbot, who escaped a bases-loaded jam in sixth on two hard-hit line drives to the outfield by Juan Rivera and Howie Kendrick.

"The first four or five innings I felt really sharp and my pitches were going right where I wanted them to," Talbot said. "In the sixth, it kind of got away from me a little bit and I got into a little trouble. They tattooed a couple of balls hard that I threw right down the middle, but luckily for me, they were right at people and I got out of it."

Joe Saunders (1-4) threw 104 pitches over five innings, giving up three runs, nine hits and four walks. The left-hander, who escaped bases-loaded jams in the second and third, has lost back-to-back starts at Angel Stadium after pitching eight scoreless innings at Toronto on April 17. He entered this season 10-1 with a 2.51 ERA in 14 starts during the month of April.

"It was one of those weird nights where maybe I bit my fingernail the wrong way or something," Saunders said. "My sinker wasn't sinking. My pitches weren't doing what they were supposed to do."

Choo singled home Cleveland's first run and made it 4-1 in the sixth with another RBI single, helping raise his average to .333. He and Kearns (.368) and were the only players in manager Manny Acta's starting lineup who came in with a batting average higher than .203, other than Asdrubal Cabrera (.269).

Brandon Wood homered in the ninth against Joe Smith, capping his second straight three-hit game. Smith had relieved Jensen Lewis with the bases loaded in the Angels eighth and struck out Mike Napoli. Cleveland's relievers have allowed just three of 38 inherited runners to score.

Game notes
Indians closer Kerry Wood, sidelined since March 10 because of an upper back injury, threw 35 pitches during a bullpen session and is scheduled for another one on Friday. ... When Talbot threw his complete game against Chicago, he became the first Indians pitcher to go the distance in his first start with them since May 24, 1993, when RHP Tom Kramer outpitched Texas' Kevin Brown in his first big league start. Kramer made only 15 more starts, and didn't pitch again in the majors after that season. ... Cleveland DH Matt LaPorta, who came in 0 for 18 against left-handed pitching, singled his first two times up against Saunders.