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CLEVELAND — Leave it to Nick Swisher, a man of many words, to come up with the best explanation after the Cleveland Indians broke their six-game losing streak with a 6-5 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.
“It didn’t matter how we got it,” he said, shaking his head. “That’s a much-needed win, not only for us but for our fans. It’s crazy how this game works.”
No one would disagree with Swisher’s assessment.
The comeback from a five-run deficit helped the Indians avoid their first 0-7 homestand since Aug. 27-Sept. 2, 1990, and took some of the sting out of what had been a disastrous week.
Cleveland lost the first six games on its biggest homestand of the season and appeared well on its way to No. 7.
“It’s been a rough week,” Swisher said. “This is huge for us.”
Michael Bourn drove in the go-ahead run with a seventh-inning single.
The Indians, held to one hit through five innings, got back in the game in the sixth on two-run homers by Swisher and Mike Aviles, who entered the game in the third after shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was ejected.
Carlos Santana’s leadoff homer in the seventh off J.C. Gutierrez (0-3) tied the game. Lonnie Chisenhall drew a one-out walk and moved to second on Drew Stubbs’ single. Nick Maronde relieved, but Bourn lined his first pitch to left field, giving Cleveland the lead.
“I can’t really explain it to you,” Bourn said of the comeback. “We never gave up.”
For five innings, it looked as if the Indians were about to go winless on the homestand. Justin Masterson allowed five runs in 4 1-3 innings and Cleveland’s hitters were completely baffled by Angels starter Jerome Williams.
“The one thing we did was we kept playing,” manager Terry Francona said. “That’s the kind of team we have to be.”
Matt Albers (3-1) pitched 1 2-3 innings and Chris Perez recorded his 18th save as the Indians’ bullpen threw 4 2-3 scoreless innings.
Perez, who allowed four runs in the ninth to blow a save against Detroit in the first game of the homestand Monday, retired the side in order in the ninth.
The Indians had won 10 of 11 and were only three games behind Detroit in the American League Central when the week began, but were swept in a four-game series against the Tigers and lost the first two games to the Angels.
The Indians, who were outscored 42-21 on the homestand, trail Detroit by seven games as they begin a nine-game road trip that takes them to Minnesota, Oakland and Los Angeles.
Francona admitted he had a meeting with his players following Saturday night’s 7-2 loss, a game in which the Indians committed a season-high four errors. His message centered on the proper way to deal with frustration when things are going poorly.
“We can’t just show up,” Francona said. “We have to find a way to be better than the other team and play nine innings.”
The Indians looked sloppy and frustrated in the early going. Cabrera, who failed to make two plays in the second, was ejected in the bottom of the inning for arguing a strike call. Aviles replaced Cabrera at shortstop and made a throwing error in the fourth.
Josh Hamilton’s RBI single and Mark Trumbo’s run-scoring groundout in first gave the Angels a 2-0 lead. Mike Trout drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single in the second for the Angels, who came into town with a four-game losing streak.
The second-inning rally began with one out when Hank Conger singled off Swisher’s glove at first. Cabrera couldn’t field Grant Green’s hard ground ball, which moved Conger to third. Masterson had a chance to get out of the inning when Conger was forced out at home on J.B. Shuck’s ground ball, but he walked Kole Calhoun to load the bases.
Trout grounded a 1-2 pitch to the left of Cabrera, who took a half step and made no attempt to dive for the ball. Green and Shuck scored on the play.
Cabrera wasn’t around much longer. Leading off the bottom of the inning, he stepped out of the box after taking a called second strike and exchanged words with plate umpire Vic Carapazza. He then struck out swinging, argued with the umpire again and was ejected. Cabrera flung his bat and helmet to the ground before going to the dugout.
Williams was in complete control going into the sixth. He retired 10 in a row before Bourn singled with two outs. Swisher’s drive cleared the wall in left and cut the lead to 5-2. After Jason Kipnis walked, Aviles homered into the bleachers in left, which finished Williams.
“Jerome showed so many good things out there today,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He pitched a strong game.”
NOTES: Angels OF Peter Bourjos (broken right wrist) will be recalled this week from his rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Salt Lake. He has been on the 15-day disabled list since June 30. ... Angels LHP Jason Vargas (blood clot in armpit) threw a bullpen session before the game and could start Tuesday against the Yankees. ... The Angels wrap up their seven-game road trip with a four-game series against the Yankees. Los Angeles RHP Garrett Richardson (3-4) takes on New York RHP Hiroki Kuroda (10-7) in the opener Monday. ... Santana was back behind the plate for the first time since Thursday. He played first base Friday and was the designated hitter Saturday, allowing Yan Gomes to catch. ... The Indians begin their nine-game, 10-day road trip today in Minnesota. Cleveland RHP Danny Salazar (1-0) faces Twins LHP Andrew Albers (1-0) in a battle of top prospects in the three-game series opener.