Indians sweep Angels aside

By John Nadel Associated Press Published:

ANAHEIM, Calif. _ Charles Nagy was dreadful in the season-opener at Seattle, and he discovered why afterward.

He put that knowledge to work against the Anaheim Angels.

Nagy pitched seven strong innings before weakening in the eighth, but got effective work from his bullpen as the Cleveland Indians beat the Angels 6-4 Sunday to remain the only unbeaten team in the majors.

Cleveland's 5-0 start is its best since 1966 when it opened with 10 wins. The Indians, who won two games at Seattle before sweeping a three-game series from the Angels, have scored 42 runs, an average of 8.4 per game.

Nagy struggled in his first start, giving up 12 hits and nine runs in 4 2/3 innings. The Indians rallied from a 9-3 deficit to beat the Mariners 10-9.

"In Seattle, I was overthrowing a lot," Nagy said. "I looked at a few tapes, it was pretty evident. When I overthrow, the ball usually stays flat and over the plate. I tried to relax today. The ball was moving differently, it was moving down instead of sideways."

Nagy (1-0) allowed just five hits and one run in the first seven innings. Matt Walbeck led off the Anaheim eighth with his first homer to cut Cleveland's lead to 6-2, and the Angels then put runners on first and third with one out.

Dave Hollins followed with a potential inning-ending double-play grounder back to the box, but after knocking the ball down, Nagy threw the ball into centerfield for an error to score a run, making it 6-3.

Jose Mesa relieved Nagy and pitched out of trouble by retiring Tim Salmon on a grounder to short that drove in a run and Cecil Fielder on a grounder to the mound.

Salmon, who represented the tying run, hit his second homer in the second for Anaheim's first run. He also homered off Mesa on Friday night in a 6-2 loss.

"Oh sure, you think about it, it makes the juices flow," Salmon said. "You want to do it again, especially in such a more meaningful situation, but sometimes thinking about it too much goes against you."

Paul Assenmacher got one out in the ninth and Mike Jackson finished up for his third save.

David Justice had three hits, including his first homer, and drove in three runs, and Jim Thome had two hits and two RBIs to lead the red-hot Cleveland offense.

"I just got good pitches to hit today," said Justice, whose two-run homer in the third snapped a 1-1 tie and put the defending AL champion Indians ahead for good. "As a hitter, it's all about getting a good pitch to hit."

Justice connected off Jason Dickson (0-1) one out after Kenny Lofton's leadoff single.

Justice's RBI single triggered a three-run fifth that gave the Indians a 6-1 lead. Thome hit a two-run single later in the inning that knocked out Dickson.

"We're getting the key hits right now, we're running the bases aggressively, putting pressure on the other teams to make the plays," Indians manager Mike Hargrove said. "It's still only five games into the season. We've got an awful lot of baseball left."

The Indians took a 1-0 lead in the second on Thome's leadoff double and a two-out RBI single by Pat Borders. Salmon's homer tied it before Justice unloaded in the third.

"We didn't swing the bats well this series," Angels manager Terry Collins said. "We've been getting into our bullpen way too early. It's tough playing when you're four, five runs down all the time."

Dickson allowed seven hits and six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings. He walked five and struck out three.

Notes: The Angels, who scored just six runs against the Indians, face Boston ace Pedro Martinez tonight. "It doesn't get any easier, but maybe that's the kind of guy we'll hit a couple balls into holes against and that will get us going," Collins said. ... Salmon's homer was the 155th of his career, moving him into third place on the Angels' career list, one behind Chili Davis. Brian Downing is the team's leader with 222. ... Indians infielder Enrique Wilson returned to Cleveland for an MRI examination on his left thumb, which he injured while attempting to steal second Friday night. ... The Indians lost two shortstops _ Omar Vizquel and Shawon Dunston _ to minor injuries, but both players said they will be available to play tonight in Oakland. Vizquel, who has hit safely in all five Indians games, jammed the ring finger on his right hand and Dunston bruised his right biceps.

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