ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - Howie Kendrick doesn’t care where he hits in the lineup, as long as he gets opportunities to drive in runs for the Angels.
Kendrick had a two-run single in his first game batting leadoff this season, Chris Iannetta hit a pair of RBI singles and Los Angeles beat Cleveland 6-4 Tuesday night to send the Indians to their fifth straight defeat.
“I don’t put as much emphasis on leading off as everybody else might,” Kendrick said. “I don’t really think about it. I just try to treat it just like I would if I was hitting anywhere else. It’s not like I’ve got to change my approach. I’ve been swinging the bat well and I’ve been seeing the ball well. I’ve hit anywhere from 1 through 9, so the biggest thing is just to keep the offense rolling and helping the team win games.”
Kendrick became the fifth player manager Mike Scioscia has started in the leadoff spot. It was the 12th time he has started there in his nine-year career, the rest coming in 2010. Kendrick is 13 for 47 with two homers, 10 RBIs, four walks and eight runs scored when starting atop the lineup, and the Angels are 9-3 in those games.
Kendrick chased Corey Kluber with a two-run single to center in the fifth inning for a 4-0 lead after a walk to Collin Cowgill. That was the only official at-bat for the Angels’ second baseman, who got plunked by Kluber’s second pitch of the game, had a sacrifice bunt in the fourth and walked in the seventh.
“Scioscia’s not afraid to mix things up with our lineup. Howie’s a guy who’s done it in the past, and he doesn’t have any problem being in that situation,” Albert Pujols said. “If there’s anyone who can bat first, second, third, fourth or fifth, it’s him because he puts the ball in play pretty well and he’s a good guy to have up there with men in scoring position. He has a good vision of the plate and he doesn’t strike out that much.”
Cleveland lost All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis to an abdominal strain on his right side in the fourth inning after he grounded into a double play.
Jered Weaver (2-2) allowed two runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings, striking out six and walking one. The Angels’ ace threw 90 pitches and was lifted after giving up four consecutive hits, including a two-run homer by Carlos Santana.
“He made pitches when he had to,” said Indians designated hitter Jason Giambi, who struck out both times he faced the right-hander. “He knows how to pitch, which makes him tough. That’s why we could never get the big inning against him. He always knows how to get guys out.”
Joe Smith, the seventh Angels pitcher, tossed a perfect ninth for his second save in two nights against his former teammates after he was thrust into the closer’s role last Friday in place of an ineffective Ernesto Frieri.
Kluber (2-3) gave up four runs - three earned - and four hits over 4 2-3 innings with five strikeouts and four walks. The right-hander escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fourth, retiring Pujols on a popup after an intentional walk to Mike Trout and then striking out Raul Ibanez with the Indians trailing 2-0.
“He had good stuff. He kept the ball down and he has a couple of good weapons to put you away,” Pujols said.
The Angels put runners at the corners in the fifth with the help of a successful replay challenge by Scioscia, after first base umpire Gabe Morales ruled J.B. Shuck out on a potential double-play grounder to second base that was corrected to a fielder’s choice.
“That’s why they put in the instant replays, to get some stuff right,” Weaver said. “Over the years, who knows how many plays have caused games to go in different directions? So it’s nice when those calls go our way, and we were able to capitalize on it.”
Santana, who hit a three-run homer in Monday night’s series-opening 6-3 loss, got the Indians off the mat in the sixth with his two-run shot to right.