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Angels Hope To Extend Winning Streak Against Indians

Tied with the Philadelphia Phillies for the top record in baseball heading into the weekend, the Cleveland Indians try to bounce back from a rare loss tonight as they tangle with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium.

The Indians, who are an incredible 13-2 at home so far in 2011, have a record of just 8-8 on the road and fell to .500 last night when they lost 2-1 in 11 innings versus the host Angels in the opener of a three-game set. Starter Justin Masterson allowed just a single earned run on nine hits, striking out five, over the course of seven innings, but after three relievers managed to keep the Angels scoreless, it was Justin Germano who was charged with his first loss of the season after he permitted four hits without registering a single out for the visitors. A ground out to first by Travis Hafner in the fourth inning scored Asdrubal Cabrera for the lone run of the contest for the Tribe.

"Tonight we battled," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "Justin Masterson was very good. He gave us seven innings. I thought our guys played well. They got the win, but I'm happy with the way our guys played."

Erick Aybar, Bobby Abreu and Maicer Izturis all registered singles in the bottom of the 11th inning for the Angels, loading the bases for Torii Hunter, who singled to left to score Aybar and give the hosts their third win in a row and the sixth in the last 10 outings as they moved two games ahead of both Oakland and Texas in the American League West standings. Reliever Fernando Rodney picked up his first win of 2011 for LA, holding the visitors scoreless in the top of the last inning, but it was starter Tyler Chatwood who did most of the hard work for the group in allowing just a single earned run on two hits and five walks, while striking out five over the course of eight innings.

"Chatwood had a terrific performance against one of the best teams in baseball," Angels manager Mike Scioscia noted after the performance. "He got through eight innings. He brought his game and that was important."

Scheduled to make just his second start in the majors tonight for the visiting Tribe is rookie Alex White. Called up from Triple-A Columbus at the end of April, the 22-year old right-hander faced off against the Detroit Tigers at home last weekend and worked six solid innings, allowing two runs on a pair of solo home runs, in addition to issuing four walks and striking out four over six innings in a 3-2 victory. White, who did not earn the decision on Saturday, was the 15th pick of the 2009 amateur draft by Cleveland.

As for the Angels, they are handing the ball to the only six-game winner in the majors tonight as Jered Weaver heads to the mound for the hosts. The 28- year old right-hander was aiming to become the game's first seven-game winner on Monday but instead he and the Angels were dealt a 9-5 setback by the Boston Red Sox on the road. In that loss Weaver was touched for three runs on six hits, while striking out six in as many innings. The defeat came on the heels of a pair of complete games for the California native.

Weaver, who is first in the American League in both ERA (1.39) and strikeouts (55), has issued just two walks in his last four starts. Obviously Weaver has been the standout performer for the Angels to this point in the season, but the team now needs to get the offense in gear after being out on the road for such a long stretch.

As recently as April 27 Hunter was showing a batting average of just .210 for the Angels, but thanks to an eight-game hitting streak during which he has recorded a total of 11 hits, he appears to be finally coming alive for the club. Howard Kendrick is second on the team in the last week with 11 hits, but at the same time he has struck out 10 times. Trying to stay more evenly balanced is Abreu who, during the same stretch has seven strikeouts, but has tempered those failed attempts at the plate by posting eight RBIs.

Over the last week the Indians hitters have had their problems at the dish, batting a combined .229 with 48 strikeouts and just 18 runs scored. Shin-Soo Choo, who on May 2 was arrested on suspicion of DUI, has gone hitless in the four games since, that after having 22 hits in his previous 21 outings. Choo is batting just .080 in the last six games which is still surprisingly better than Grady Sizemore who has but one hit in his last 19 at-bats (.053) for the Indians heading into action on Saturday night.

The Angles are now 3-1 on the season against Cleveland, after the Indians posted a slight advantage in the season series a year ago at 5-4 when the teams split six meetings in California.

For more news and information on the Angels, or on today's game, be sure to read the SB Nation blog Halos Heaven.