Hagadone helps lift Indians to fifth straight win

Reliever thrives in first appearance after return from Triple-A.

Jun 3, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Nick Hagadone (50) delivers in the seventh inning against the Boston Red Sox at Progressive Field. 

David Richard / USA Today Sports

CLEVELAND -- Nick Hagadone was brought up from Columbus on Monday because he hadn't allowed an earned run in his last seven outings and his success against left-handed hitters, which Boston is loaded with.

In his first appearance of the season on Tuesday, Terry Francona put Hagadone in a tough situation -- tie game, one out in the seventh and runners on first and second. But the left-hander came through with back-to-back strikeouts as the Indians would score twice in the seventh for a 5-3 win at Progressive Field.

The win is Cleveland's fifth straight overall and their eighth straight at home as they are within one game of .500. The last time the Tribe was at .500 was when they beat Kansas City on April 24 to go to 11-11. They then dropped six straight on the road to the Giants and Angels.

After being 10 1/2 games out of first on May 18 after being swept by Oakland, the Indians have gained six games on the Tigers over the past 16 days.

Hagadone ended up pitching 1 1/3 innings. He faced five batters and struck out three while allowing only one hit. Hagadone also ended up getting the win, which is only his third in the Majors and first since June 19, 2012, against the Reds.

"That was a huge effort on his part," Francona said. "On a night where we didn't use (Bryan) Shaw, he was able to pitch well enough where we could bring Cody (Allen) in to clean up in the eighth and then use him in the ninth."

In 21 appearances at Columbus, Hagadone was 2-3 with a save and 3.09 ERA, but he struck out 35 of the 96 Triple-A batters he faced with left-handed hitters batting .171 against him. Of the six hits he allowed, none of them were for extra bases.

Over his last seven outings, he didn't allow an earned run in 9 1/3 innings pitched and struck out 17 with only one walk.

The biggest key to Hagadone's recent success has been in changing the mechanics in his delivery. He said that before it was more robotic and that there were more pauses in it. Now it is smoother and the tempo is cleaner.

The other thing it helped was his breaking ball. Hagadone said that before they made the changes, hitters would know it was a breaking ball as soon as it left his hand. Of Hagadone's three strikeouts on Tuesday, two of the third strikes came on sliders. In the seventh he got A.J. Pierzynski on a slider and then retired Alex Hassan on a 95-mile fastball. In the eighth with one out and a runner on first, Hagadone got Brock Holt looking on a slider.

"When I get ahead and have a chance I throw my breaking ball where in the past I would throw fastballs and it would get me in trouble sometimes," Hagadone said. "I've got better direction toward the plate and more consistency throwing strikes."

The win was also special for Hagadone because the Red Sox drafted him. The Indians acquired him in the 2009 Victor Martinez trade in which they also got Justin Masterson.

"Whenever I get to pitch against them it is exciting," Hagadone said. "Knowing Tito is willing to put me in that situation gives me confidence."

In his third start, T.J. House got into some trouble early but was able to navigate out of it as he went 5 2/3 innings and gave up two runs. House gave up a run on six hits the first three innings and didn't retire the Red Sox in order until the fourth.

Scott Atchison, who has been pretty reliable for most of the season, gave up doubles to Xander Bogaerts and Dustin Pedroia to lead off the seventh as the Red Sox tied it at three. David Ortiz was intentionally walked and Johnny Gomes popped out to short to set the stage for Hagadone.

Hagadone's win also marked the 13th by the Cleveland bullpen this season, which leads the American League.

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