Angels left searching for big hit

Angels left searching for big hit

ANAHEIM -- One night after seeing Boston's Tim Wakefield, the Angels saw the closest thing to another knuckleballer when they went up against Cleveland's Paul Byrd on Monday.

Byrd used an assortment of changeups and breaking balls that were as slow as 70 mph to accompany his fastball and slider, both of which reached just the mid-80s on the radar gun.

Byrd allowed just one run on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings pitched and was aided by three home runs as the Angels saw their five-game winning streak come to end in a 5-2 loss to the Indians on Monday night at Angel Stadium.

A member of the 2005 Angels, Byrd allowed a hit in five of the six innings he appeared in, but he escaped out of several jams. The Halo were just 2-for-13 (.154) with runners in scoring position after batting .370 with runners in scoring position in their three-game series with the Red Sox over the weekend.

"Paul is one of those guys," Angels center fielder Torii Hunter said. "He's like [Boston's Tim] Wakefield. You never know what you're going to get. The ball's moving around all over the place. When we got runners in scoring position, he beared down and had that cutter working on the outside corner and his changeup. He was throwing anything. He invented pitches."

Byrd's counterpart, Angels right-hander Ervin Santana, might not have "invented pitches" but had his customary stuff working as he struck out eight batters and walked none in seven innings. However, the 2008 All-Star was hurt by home runs by Andy Marte and Casey Blake in allowing four runs, three earned, in seven hits over seven innings.

"I think Ervin had terrific stuff tonight," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's just unfortunate he missed with a couple of fastballs."

The Angels again fell to a team with a sub-.500 record, and they are now 18-18 against teams with a losing record and 39-18 against teams with a winning record.

"Baseball is crazy," Hunter said. "You can be beat by anybody at any time. It's not a setback. We can't expect to win every day. We would love to, but one thing about this game is how you have to expect failure."

The Indians got on the scoreboard first in the second inning with a sacrifice fly by David Dellucci that scored Jhonny Peralta, who reached base on an error by right fielder Gary Matthews Jr.

The Angels responded with a run of their own -- much to the delight of the crowd of 43,037 -- in the bottom half of the inning on an RBI single by Jeff Mathis. But the Halos left the bases loaded with two outs in the inning when Maicer Izturis flied out to right on a 3-1 count. The Angels stranded eight through the first five innings.

"We got hits here and there, but we didn't get the key ones with guys in scoring position," said Howie Kendrick, who went 3-for-4 with a home run. "Sometimes that's just the way it goes."

The Indians used the long ball to add a run in the fourth inning and two more in their fifth. Marte hit a solo home run -- his second of the season -- in the fourth on a 3-1 count. Blake followed Grady Sizemore's double in the fifth with a two-run homer to left field on 0-1 fastball.

The Angels and Indians each added a run in the eighth inning on solo homers. Peralta hit a home run in the top of the eighth, and Kendrick hit his third home run of the season in the bottom of the inning.

Santana fell to 0-6 with a 6.03 ERA against Cleveland in his career, but after the game he said he wasn't even aware that he had struggled that much against the Indians.

"I didn't even know that," Santana said. "I know every time I pitch against them, I always throw a good game -- but I'm unlucky against them."

Rhett Bollinger is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.