CLEVELAND — The Angels continued their rapid descent in the American League wild-card standings with Sunday’s 6-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field, their fourth straight defeat and eighth loss in 10 games.
Cleveland right-hander Shane Bieber, a former Laguna Hills High School and UC Santa Barbara standout, threw his third complete game of the season, allowing two runs and five hits, striking out eight and walking none in a 107-pitch effort to improve to 11-4 with a 3.31 ERA.
Oscar Mercado, Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis each hit solo home runs, and Kipnis’ clutch two-out, two-run single in the fifth inning helped push the surging Indians to their 37th win in 52 games since June 4.
The Angels were 54-49, a season-high five games over .500, and four games back in the wild-card race after completing a two-game sweep of the Dodgers on July 24 for their ninth win in 12 games.
After losing five of seven games to the Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers, who are both on pace to lose more than 100 games, and getting swept in the three-game series in Cleveland, the Angels are nine games behind Tampa Bay for the second wild-card spot.
Angels starter Jaime Barria labored through 3? innings, allowing three runs and five hits — including the three solo homers — striking out six, walking three and throwing 89 pitches.
The right-hander caused a five-minute, 10-second delay in the second inning when he returned to the clubhouse or training room to deal with a blister on his right big toe, but he was able to remain in the game.
Reliever Luke Bard, who flew overnight from Salt Lake to Cleveland after being recalled Sunday morning, wasn’t so lucky. After retiring Mercado with two on to end the fourth inning, the right-hander was hit in the right triceps by a 103-mph Carlos Santana line drive and pulled from the game. Bard appeared to escape serious injury — he was diagnosed with a triceps bruise.
Mercado homered to center field in the first inning off Barria, and Lindor homered to center in the third. Brian Goodwin’s double and Albert Pujols’ RBI single in the fourth pulled the Angels to within 2-1.
Kipnis homered to center in the bottom of the fourth for a 3-1 lead and singled to right off Angels reliever JC Ramirez with runners on second and third to push the lead to 5-1 in the fifth.
Kole Calhoun hit a solo homer to right, his 25th of the season, off Bieber in the seventh to cut the lead to 5-2.
The Angels tacked on an insurance run off Hansel Robles in the eighth when Kipnis walked, Jordan Luplow capped a 10-pitch at-bat with a double off the left-field wall and Lindor hit a sacrifice fly to center for a 6-2 lead.
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