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Duncan's two homers power Indians to win

Duncan's two homers power Indians to win

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CLEVELAND -- Shelley Duncan thought only of his present at-bat, refusing to concern himself with the big picture.

By the time he was lifted for a defensive replacement after six innings Tuesday night, that picture looked awfully pretty.

Duncan homered twice, drove in four runs and assisted in throwing out a runner at home plate, with each contribution proving vital to the Indians' 4-3 victory over the Angels at Progressive Field.

"What we saw today was the reason why we brought Shelley Duncan aboard," Tribe manager Manny Acta said.

Duncan's 3-for-3 effort came in his first start since last Wednesday, when he went 0-for-2 with a walk opposite Angels starter Scott Kazmir, who took the mound again Tuesday.

This time, Duncan exacted some revenge.

"I watched a lot of film on him this week and [Monday] night," Duncan said. "I didn't want to make the same mistakes I did last time. I tried to be really patient tonight when he left some pitches over the plate."

Duncan was rewarded for that patience, along with his focus.

"I took each at-bat and made each one its own," Duncan said. "I didn't think about the past. I wasn't thinking about having a good game. I just went up to the plate and I said, 'I really want to have a good at-bat right now.' And when that at-bat was over, the next at-bat I said, 'I want to have another really good at-bat.'"

Duncan's heroics were needed after the Angels used one-out doubles by Bobby Abreu and Torii Hunter against Indians starter Josh Tomlin to claim a 1-0 first-inning lead.

The Tribe responded in the home half of the frame. Michael Brantley led off with a single to center field, extending his career-best hitting streak to 14 games, stole second base and scored on Duncan's two-out single to right.

Duncan snapped the 1-1 tie three innings later, when he opened the bottom of the fourth by pummeling a 2-2 Kazmir changeup onto the left-field porch to hand the Indians a one-run edge.

"It was a little elevated," Kazmir said. "He didn't miss."

After driving in the Tribe's first two runs, Duncan helped prevent one for the Angels in the sixth.

Hunter singled to right with none on and two out, then attempted to score on Hideki Matsui's double to left-center. Duncan played Matsui's drive off the wall and promptly initiated a relay that resulted in shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera cutting down Hunter as he tried to bowl over catcher Lou Marson, who fell back but held on to the ball.

"The play by Lou Marson was the key," Acta said. "It's tough enough to try to pick up an in-between hop with those types of catcher's gloves, but he was able to hold onto it.

"That play won us the ballgame today."

Duncan took great pleasure in watching the sequence unfold from left-center.

"As fast as it happened, it was really clean," Duncan said. "It really fired me up. I was more fired up about that play than anything else that happened tonight."

He sure looked fired up in the sixth, following up Shin-Soo Choo's leadoff walk with another blast to left off Kazmir, this one a two-run shot that gave the Indians a 4-1 advantage.

"I was trying to go in and threw a fastball down the middle," Kazmir said. "He's just a free swinger."

The Halos pulled within one run in the seventh, thanks to a two-out rally that chased Tomlin. After doubles from Howard Kendrick and Bobby Wilson, Peter Bourjos jerked Tomlin's 1-2 fastball to right-center for a triple.

"I don't know if I was tired or not," said Tomlin, who threw 100 pitches. "I just left balls up to certain guys and they made me pay for it."

Tomlin scattered seven hits over 6 2/3 innings of three-run ball, firing first-pitch strikes to 16 of the 27 batters he faced.

"He threw the ball very well," Acta said. "He had very good command of that cutter, changed speeds on it and had them out in front all night, up until two outs in the seventh inning."

Rafael Perez and Joe Smith worked 1 1/3 scoreless frames after Tomlin's departure, but the Angels didn't go quietly in the ninth. The Halos put runners on first and third with one down against Chris Perez, who caught Bourjos looking at a 2-2 fastball for the second out.

"That last pitch froze me," Bourjos said. "I had a good at-bat [in the seventh] and then a bad one in a big situation."

After pinch-runner Brandon Wood took second on a passed ball to advance the go-ahead run into scoring position, Perez induced a game-ending flyout to left off the bat of Alberto Callaspo.

Having been lifted defensively for Trevor Crowe in the seventh, Duncan watched the game's final innings from the Indians' dugout on a night he had a hand in all four of the runs the Tribe scored -- and one the Angels didn't.

"Tonight was a great night for him," Acta said. "He pretty much won the game by himself."

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

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