Cleveland Indians' Jason Kipnis, left, and Shin-Soo Choo celebrate the Indians' 7-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles Thursday.
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BALTIMORE — The Cleveland Indians found the perfect way to end a bothersome losing streak, and it had little to do with a clubhouse meeting or manager Manny Acta’s ability as a motivational speaker.
Seems as if there’s nothing like a trio of long balls to get a team back on track.
Johnny Damon and Asdrubal Cabrera hit three-run homers, Shin-Soo Choo had a solo shot, and the Indians beat the Baltimore Orioles 7-2 Thursday night to end a five-game skid.
Damon’s home run put the Indians up 3-0 in the second inning, Choo made it 4-0 and Cabrera provided the clincher in the seventh.
“Johnny Damon’s three-run homer ... pretty much set the tone for us and gave us some relief from the get-go,” Acta said. “It was an early lead, and that Cabrera homer was huge, something that we really needed. Choo, obviously. It feels good that we were able to have good at-bats against a left-handed pitcher today.”
Cleveland came in 5-16 against left-handed starters, but the Indians had their way against Orioles lefty Wei-Yin Chen (7-4).
J.J. Hardy homered for the Orioles, who have lost seven of nine. Baltimore has scored only 14 runs during that span and is 3 for 52 with runners in scoring position over the last 10 games, including 1 for 5 in this one.
Acta held a closed-door meeting before the game to make sure his players had the proper mind-set following their five-game losing streak.
Asked what he told the team, Acta replied, “It’s a very long season, a roller coaster where you go up and down. It’s about staying positive, sticking together and just making sure that you do what you’re supposed to do and not panic.”
The Indians responded by coming within one home run of their season high. That, combined with an effective outing by rookie Zach McAllister, put Cleveland back over the .500 mark at 38-37.
“We haven’t been swinging the bats so well,” Damon said. “We got three (runs) in the second ... added another run with Choo’s homer, and then Cabrera just topped it off for us. It’s been a while since we’ve hit the long ball. The long ball puts runs on the board, and that’s what it did today.”
And what of the closed-door session?
“The most important thing with the meeting is to understand slumps happen in this game,” Damon said.
Recalled from Triple-A Columbus before the game, McAllister allowed two runs and seven hits over 5 2-3 innings to earn his second big league win. McAllister (2-1) struck out six and walked one in his fifth career start.
“It’s definitely exciting to be back up and get off to a good start,” the right-hander said.
Chen gave up six runs, six hits (including two homers) and three walks in 6 1-3 innings. The six runs, as well as the two homers, matched the most he’s yielded this season.
“Every day, you got a different feel for your pitches. Today, I just don’t feel it,” Chen said through an interpreter.
Baltimore didn’t give him much offensive backing. Down 4-0, the Orioles closed to 4-2 in the fifth when Hardy connected after Ryan Flaherty singled. Hardy, who started the game in a 4-for-41 slump, also doubled in the first inning and finished 2 for 4.
But Baltimore continued to struggle with men on base.
“We definitely haven’t been hitting with runners in scoring position lately but we’ve got to keep grinding,” Hardy said. “It’s one of things where, the more you think about it, the more you try harder and harder. That’s not what you need to do. It will turn around eventually.”
The Indians pulled away in the seventh. After Lou Marson doubled and Choo walked, Luis Ayala replaced Chen and threw a 2-0 pitch that Cabrera drove over the right-field wall.
NOTES: The Orioles placed DH Nick Johnson on the 15-day DL with a sprained right wrist and recalled OF Xavier Avery from Triple-A Norfolk. Avery started in LF and went 1 for 4. ... To make room for McAllister, Cleveland optioned LHP Scott Barnes to Columbus. ... Jake Arrieta (3-9) will start for the Orioles on Friday against 39-year-old Derek Lowe (7-6). Baltimore manager Buck Showalter has decided upon LHP Dana Eveland as his starter on Saturday. ... Orioles C Matt Wieters notched his second career stolen base. ... Cleveland has gone six straight games without an error, one short of matching its season high.
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