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LAA@CLE: Iannetta plates two with a double to center

CLEVELAND -- Mike Scioscia didn't want to pinch-run for Raul Ibanez because he might have needed Collin Cowgill later, didn't want to sacrifice bunt because his bullpen couldn't handle a potential extra-inning game and didn't want to challenge a close call at second because he could've deployed it later.

In the end, Scioscia was managing for situations that never occurred.

His Angels dropped the opener of a four-game series at Progressive Field on Monday, 4-3, making a loser out of Jered Weaver, absorbing their fourth defeat in the last five games and leaving the top of the eighth inning open for second-guessing.

With the Angels down a run, the 42-year-old Ibanez led off with a walk but was caught stealing on a bang-bang play -- a double play after Chris Iannetta's strikeout -- and the Angels navigated through the frame without a run, wondering what could've been after Erick Aybar's pinch-hit single came with nobody on and finishing the night with a challenge that went unused.

Scioscia had the speedy Cowgill available, but elected not to use him as a pinch-runner because if the Indians used one of their tough lefties, either Marc Rzepczynski or Josh Outman, the Angels' skipper wanted the right-handed-hitting Cowgill to either pinch-hit for the left-handed-hitting Kole Calhoun or play the outfield after C.J. Cron stepped in.

"We were holding him back for that," Scioscia said, "and we just didn't get to that move."

But Calhoun can hit southpaws -- he entered with a .751 career OPS against lefties, compared with a .776 OPS against righties -- and the Indians had a taxed bullpen after they needed their relievers to compile 15 1/3 innings over the previous three games.

Rzepczynski, who leads the Majors in appearances with 36, threw 1 2/3 innings on Sunday and was only available in case of an emergency on Monday. Outman didn't warm up until the ninth, even though Calhoun was due up fourth in the eighth. And Carlos Carrasco was forced to pitch the final 2 1/3 innings of a one-run game, giving up one hit and one walk while recording his first career save.

"My mentality is way different, attacking the hitter and everything," Carrasco said after locking down the Indians' 10th straight home win. "I think I threw 35 pitches, maybe 10 fastballs, because the game was on the line. I used more breaking stuff."

Ibanez had already swiped second base three innings earlier, his third stolen base of the year, and got a great jump on Carrasco, seemingly beating the quick throw from Indians catcher George Kottaras before second-base umpire Rob Drake called him out. Scioscia went out to talk with the umpires, but didn't end up using his remaining challenge to get a replay review.

"From our angle, it looked like his foot was in there," Scioscia said. "But on the replay, we couldn't verify it."

Managers can convince umpires to look at replay via a crew-chief review from the start of the seventh inning to the end of the game, but only if they're out of challenges themselves. Scioscia still had his challenge.

Why not just use it, since it's already the eighth inning and it could mean having the tying run in scoring position?

"You might consider it if you're walking off the field, but there's still a lot of baseball left, and you only want to use that when you think there's a high probability of it being overturned," Scioscia said. "It's not automatic after the seventh inning that a crew will look at a play. If you have a challenge, they have to. So you're mindful of that, and you're also mindful of the probability. If there was a probability that that was going to be overturned, we would've obviously challenged it."

Another option was to have Iannetta -- who had already hit a two-run double and a single off the wall against righty Trevor Bauer -- move Ibanez into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, but Scioscia was playing for the win on the road. And the fact his bullpen registered 11 2/3 innings while dropping two of three in Atlanta over the weekend made him even more wary of extra innings.

"We certainly didn't have the length tonight," Scioscia said. "You want to try to get a bigger inning if it's going to be available to you. Obviously, it didn't play out that way, but this was a night where we needed to press the action."

And it was a night that ended in plenty of regret.

Weaver served up a two-run homer to Asdrubal Cabrera to put the Indians on the board in the first, then gave up a leadoff homer to Carlos Santana to give them their third lead in the fourth, giving the Angels ace 14 homers allowed this season -- three shy of last year's total.

"It's no secret -- I just can't stay away from the home run ball," said Weaver, who entered with a 1.64 career ERA in Cleveland and left pitching six innings of four-run ball. "It's been killing me lately, and that was the difference in the game again tonight."

His offense didn't help, going 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, leaving 10 runners on base and having the three best hitters in the lineup -- Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton -- go down in order in the ninth.

"We had a lot of opportunities," Scioscia said. "A lot of opportunities and couldn't cash in on enough of them." Comments