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CLE@OAK: Hafner ropes an RBI double off the wall

OAKLAND -- As reporters approached Justin Masterson in the visitors' clubhouse at the Coliseum on Sunday, surrounding him and readying their recorders and notepads, the big Indians pitcher flashed a smile and began to speak before anyone could ask a question.

"Great road trip," Masterson said. "That's probably all I can say here at the end of it. It was a solid road trip."

It was typical of Masterson to try to turn the attention to his team as a whole, and it was indeed a strong showing on the road for Cleveland. Even with Sunday's 5-1 loss to the A's -- a game in which Masterson labored to command his signature sinker -- the Tribe captured three series wins on its first journey away from home.

The Indians wrapped up their nine-game, three-city tour with a 7-2 showing. The Tribe took two out of the three games in Oakland, following the same result in Seattle and a three-game sweep of the Royals before that. It marked the first time since 1988 that Cleveland won each of its first three road series.

The Indians also went 4-2 without All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who has been home in Venezuela this past week after the death of his grandfather. The ballclub carried on without him and will welcome him back to the lineup Tuesday in Cleveland.

Heading into Monday's off-day on the heels of a loss, the Tribe kept its focus on that kind of success.

"I'm very happy with the way we played on the road," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "It was a very good road trip. Winning three series, that's something that you don't see very often. We came out and played well after starting shaky at home, so I'm happy about that.

"Now we have to go back, enjoy the day off, get the long johns out and play ball at home."

During the season-opening homestand against the Blue Jays and White Sox, the Indians went 1-4 and hit the road with a .176 team average and only 20 runs under their belt. Things changed drastically away from Cleveland. Over the past nine games, the Tribe hit .281 and scored 54 runs, including 28 with two outs.

There were, however, rough patches along the way.

Masterson ran into two.

Against the A's, Masterson was tagged for four runs on six hits over five innings en route to his second loss in four starts for the Indians. For the second outing in a row, walks represented the sinkerballer's primary source of frustration. Over his last two starts, Masterson has given up 12 runs on 13 hits with 10 free passes in only 8 2/3 innings.

"The ball is moving," Masterson said. "The ball is moving a lot and we're really close. We're not trying to pick the corners, but we seem to be right there and just missing. We're just really close. It's nothing way out -- nothing crazy. It's just something that's happened."

It is also something Masterson has had an easier time handling given his team's overall showing.

"It's good for everyone," said Masterson, who is 0-2 with a 6.65 ERA. "I think anyone who may not be doing what they know they can do yet can still feel good about themselves and say, 'Hey, we want to be a part of this,' and continue to help pick up those guys that picked you up."

The A's first broke through against Masterson in the third inning, when he issued a two-out walk to Jemile Weeks and then surrendered a run-scoring double to Cliff Pennington. An inning later, Masterson walked Kila Ka'aihue before watching Seth Smith yank a 1-0 offering over the right-field wall for a two-run home run that put Cleveland behind, 3-1.

That effectively erased the lone run produced by the Tribe against A's right-hander Tyson Ross. Shin-Soo Choo and Travis Hafner used consecutive first-inning doubles to push Cleveland to a 1-0 lead, but that was all the Tribe would manage against Ross (1-0) in his 6 2/3 innings on the hill. Ross walked five and scattered four hits but found a way to limit the damage.

"It's definitely playing with fire," Ross said of all the baserunners he allowed. "Luckily, I didn't get burned."

Acta noted that the Indians did themselves no favors with defensive miscues.

With an extreme defensive shift on in the fifth inning, second baseman Jason Kipnis misfired on a throw to first base after fielding a grounder from Ka'aihue in shallow right field. It was ruled a single and Ka'aihue later scored on a Kurt Suzuki single. In the eighth, first baseman Jose Lopez bobbled a ball, helping Eric Sogard score from second base on an infield single from Pennington.

"Despite not showing errors on the board," Acta said, "there were a couple plays that we should've made and we didn't. ... We just didn't play a very good ballgame today. We didn't score enough runs and gave away way too many outs."

The Indians tried not to dwell on what went wrong, though.

"Again, shoot, this was a great road trip," Masterson said. "Guys were helping out guys, picking things up, coming out 7-2. That's pretty impressive, what our boys have done." Comments