ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Indians catcher Lou Marson hasn't allowed his struggles in the batter's box this season to interfere with his solid work behind the plate.
Marson broke the game open in the sixth with his first career grand slam after Travis Hafner led off the inning with a go-ahead homer that was upheld by video replay, and Cleveland beat the fast-fading Los Angeles Angels 6-1 on Tuesday night.
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"Lou has to work on his offensive game, obviously, but defensively he's been one of the best catchers in the league. He's been tremendous," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He not only is throwing guys out, but he's also done a good job of blocking balls and calling the ballgame. And he knows our pitching staff, because some of these guys who are up here now were with him in Triple-A after he went down. He's done a great job leading those guys."Marson threw out Bobby Abreu trying to steal second base in the fourth inning, temporarily preventing Abreu from reaching 20 steals for the 12th straight season. Marson then threw out Torii Hunter at third for the first out of the seventh with the Angels down by five runs. Marson's percentage of runners thrown out is an American League-best 36.5 (23-for-63)."I take pride in my defense and my throwing," Marson said. "That, and running the pitching staff, is my number one job."Hunter has been thrown out five times in his eight attempts to steal third base this season."It kind of caught me off guard, and maybe that's what he was trying to do," Marson said. "It was 6-1 at the time, so it surprised me. But I'll take it. The pitchers holding runners on has a lot to do with it. It all comes down to them getting the ball to me in the least amount of time."The Angels lost for the 11th time in 15 games, keeping the three-time defending AL West champions 9 1/2 games behind division-leading Texas with 23 remaining."If you're not playing good baseball, it's not going to matter if you're playing on the moon or any other planet," manager Mike Scioscia said, forgetting for a moment that the moon isn't a planet. "This sounds like a broken record: We have to pick up our game. These guys are the guys that have to do it."There's a level of frustration in here, that's for sure. These guys in here are feeling it harder than anybody. We're going to evaluate things very closely. But these guys are the guys that have to do it right now. We're playing baseball that is very uncharacteristic of the guys in that room and we're responsible for that. We're not going in the right direction; there's no doubting that."The Angels, who have spent one day alone in first place all season, have lost five straight home games for the first time since 2006 -- the last time they failed to reach the playoffs. Hunter's ill-advised dash didn't help."I apologize for me and for us as a team," said Hunter, who hit his 21st homer in the fifth to tie the score. "We need to play better. This is what we get paid to do. Our performance is terrible."Justin Masterson (6-12) allowed a run and six hits over seven innings with five strikeouts and two walks. The 6-foot-6 right-hander from Jamaica is 4-7 with a 4.98 ERA in 16 starts since beating Boston 11-0 on June 9 with a two-hitter for his first big league shutout. In his past three starts, he has allowed a total of three runs over 20 2/3 innings."It's one of those things where you're trying to find the correct checkpoints and things come together," Masterson said. "As a big, tall, lanky guy, you try to work through many different things. And I've finally found some good checkpoints to catch myself -- even within the game. I just tell myself to remember what makes me good and what I can do. I've been turning to those checkpoints, and that's what's made me consistent."Trevor Bell (2-5) allowed two runs and four hits over 5 1/3 innings. Shin-Soo Choo's sacrifice fly in the third was the only run against the right-hander until the sixth, when Hafner led off with a towering drive that hit just above the 18-foot wall in right field. Second-base umpire Angel Hernandez gave the home run signal, bringing Scioscia out of the dugout to argue.Scioscia requested that the umpires check the video, and plate ump Rob Drake remained on the field while Hernandez, Dan Bellino and crew chief Joe West went inside for another look.Bell faced one more batter before rookie Francisco Rodriguez came on. He gave up a single to Jordan Brown, then walked the next two batters before Marson drove a 1-0 pitch to left field for his third homer of the season and a 6-1 lead. It was the eighth grand slam allowed by the Angels' staff."I knew he was going to come with a fastball," said Marson, whose homer ended a 4-for-33 slide. "He just left it up and I put a pretty good swing on it. It's definitely a good feeling, my first career grand slam."
The Angels announced during the fourth inning that longtime utility INF Robb Quinlan was released by the club, ending his 12-year stint with the organization. ... Hafner has eight home runs against the Angels since July 2004, when he had five in a two-day span. ... The Angels have as many road victories as Texas (32), but nine fewer wins at home (34). Seven of their final 13 games are against the Rangers.