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Walks hurt Angels in spring loss to Cleveland, 10-7

Infielder Juan Diaz hit a tie-breaking double in the eighth inning, and Travis Buck added a two-run homer in the ninth as the Cleveland Indians beat the Angels 10-7 Saturday at Diablo Stadium.

Angels pitchers had control problems, with six Indians runs originating as five walks and a hit batter.

Twice, the Angels rallied from deficits. In the seventh, Shelley Duncan struck a three-run homer off Angels reliever Jason Bulger, but the Angels responded with three runs in the bottom of the inning anchored by an Alberto Callaspo RBI triple.

Angels starting pitcher Scott Kazmir was betrayed by his walks, as Chad Huffman doubled in Matt LaPorta after a second-inning pass. Huffman came home on a soft single to left by Indians No. 8 hitter Adam Everett.

In the third, Kazmir suffered watching two close 3-2 pitches get called balls to Carlos Santana and Jayson Nix before No. 3 hitter Austin Kearns smacked a two-run double to left for a 4-0 lead.

Kazmir’s three walks through three innings gave him 10 free passes in a 10-inning spring span.

Kazmir expressed satisfaction with his outing, and Manager Mike Scioscia praised him for throwing “hotter.” But Scioscia added: “Ninety-five pitches in 4 1/3 innings is a lot of work. I hope he’ll be more pitch efficient, and he’ll have to use his last two [spring] starts to fine-tune it.

“You want to get in the [strike] zone earlier.”

Before the game, Scioscia said he expected Kazmir’s velocity to pick up after the pitcher completed a drill with pitching coach Mike Butcher this week.

Butcher “wanted to prove [to Kazmir] that he’s got natural gas,” and Kazmir hit 92 mph on the speed gun, Scioscia said. The Angels shifted Kazmir to a “B” game Monday to establish “better mechanics to throw better and control the velocity. He doesn’t need to throw 93-95.”

He was pulled after 4 1/3 innings after allowing a fourth walk. Kazmir struck out three and had two 1-2-3 innings. Scouts positioned behind home plate Saturday reported that Kazmir was throwing in the 87 mph to 89 mph range, with one pitch at 90.

That eases the prior spring concern that the southpaw coming off a 9-15, 5.94 ERA season in 2010 was laboring to throw 85 mph in Arizona.

“He still has upside,” Scioscia said. “We’re moving toward that.”

The Angels scored four runs in the bottom of the third before an out was recorded.

After a walk, Peter Bourjos laid down his second bunt single in consecutive days, and Brandon Wood singled to load the bases for Howie Kendrick, who lined a full-count pitch to right. A fielding error by Kearns let a third run score on the hit, and Bobby Abreu knocked in Kendrick with a single.

-- Lance Pugmire in Tempe, Ariz.

Twitter.com/latimespugmire

 
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