CLEVELAND – This is no way to prepare for a lengthy interleague road trip.
With nine games on tap in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Cincinnati, the Indians geared up Thursday night by dropping a 6-4 decision to the Mets at Progressive Field, which clinched a series sweep for New York.
Once again, an early deficit was too much to overcome for the Indians, who lost for the fourth straight time to a red-hot Mets team that has won seven in a row and is 18-5 since May 22 – the majors’ best record over the span.
“We ran into a hot team,” said Cleveland manager Manny Acta. “Regardless of what they hit, hard, soft, it fell in and we just couldn’t keep up.”
The Indians found themselves in the early quandary thanks to a rough opening inning from starting pitcher Jake Westbrook, who allowed three runs on six hits – all singles – in the first.
Westbrook wasn’t at his best, allowing two more runs in the fourth after walking the leadoff batter that put the Mets in front 5-2, but the right-hander was still able to give the Indians seven surprising innings.
He allowed the five runs on 11 hits, while striking out five and walking a pair.
“I made some decent pitches but they were definitely hot,” Westbrook said. “They definitely found ways to get hits and score some runs.
“I didn’t pitch well in the first and the leadoff walk in the fourth hurt us real bad.”
The Indians were unable to hand Mets starter R.A. Dickey his first loss of the season, scoring three times (two earned runs) off the right-handed knuckleballer on seven hits over six innings. Dickey (5-0, 2.82 ERA in six starts) struck out seven and walked two.
“The guys couldn’t do much with Dickey,” Acta said. “That knuckleball is a hard pitch to hit.”
Cleveland pulled to within two runs in the fifth inning on a grounder from Travis Hafner, but it could have been more, with Shin-Soo Choo singling to lead off the inning and moving to third on a double from Carlos Santana.
Hafner scored Choo before Austin Kearns and Russell Branyan struck out in succession.
Another Hafner grounder scored a run in the seventh, as the Indians got within a run, but New York scored again in the eighth on Jose Reyes’ triple off reliever Chris Perez.
“We did a good job of battling all night,” Westbrook said. “We just weren’t able to get it done.”
The 11 hits allowed by Westbrook accounted for a season-high for the veteran and the most that he has surrendered since he gave up 12 against the Tigers in 2007. He is 4-2 with a 4.19 ERA in eight starts since May 11.
Santana’s two doubles accounted for Cleveland’s extra-base hit total.
It was the third time in history that the Mets and Indians have met, New York sweeping the three-game series for the first time. The Mets took two of three from Cleveland in 2002 and 2004.
The Mets improved to 8-1 in interleague play this season, while the Indians fell to 3-6.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org.