By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) _ The Yankees came in as baseball’s hottest team, scaling to the top of the AL East despite missing several of their biggest stars.
Justin Masterson stopped them cold.
Cleveland’s starter held a makeshift New York lineup to four hits, and the Yankees wasted a solid outing by David Phelps in losing Monday’s doubleheader opener 1-0.
Jason Kipnis homered in the first off Phelps (1-2) as the Indians won for the 13th time in 15 games and improved to a major-league best 16-5 since April 20. They also stopped the Yankees’ five-game winning streak.
“We ran into a guy who was really on his game,” said Phelps, who walked five and struck out seven. “You kind of have to tip your cap to him.”
Masterson (6-2) overpowered the Yankees for his third career shutout, his second this year following a blanking of the Chicago White Sox on April 12. The right-hander is the first Cleveland pitcher to pitch two shutouts in the same season since Bud Black and Greg Swindell in 1989.
“Masty went out and did exactly what you want your ace to do,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “From the very first pitch of the game he had power, he had a breaking ball, he attacked hitters.”
Masterson had little trouble with a New York lineup lacking injured stars Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira. He retired the side in order four times, struck out nine and was backed by solid and sometimes stellar defense.
With his team in a stretch of playing 16 consecutive days, Yankees manager Joe Girardi didn’t start regulars Lyle Overbay and Vernon Wells, but both came on as pinch-hitters against Masterson.
Beyond Masterson’s gem, the Indians got stellar defense, especially from shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who took a hit away from Ichiro Suzuki in the first with a barehanded throw and prevented a run from scoring in the second with a diving stop behind second on Chris Stewart’s grounder.
Francona got Indians closer Chris Perez up in the ninth to be ready in case Masterson couldn’t finish. There was no need for the bullpen.
Masterson retired Robinson Cano and Travis Hafner before Brennan Boesch singled with two outs _ New York’s only hit to reach the outfield. But Masterson fanned pinch-hitter Vernon Wells for the final out as New York fell to 7-2 in one-run games.
The teams played the one-admission doubleheader because of consecutive rainouts last month. The Yankees stopped in Cleveland on their way back from Kansas City, while the Indians returned home for one day from a trip to Detroit and Philadelphia.
Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer was to start the second game against left-hander Vidal Nuno, slated to make his major league start.
The Yankees would have preferred a visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame than an afternoon against Masterson, who allowed two infield singles in the second and a bunt in the sixth before Boesch finally grounded a ball into the outfield in the ninth. Masterson has won four of his past five decisions against New York.
“Our lineup’s been scoring runs for us,” Phelps said. “It hasn’t been a problem. We’ve got a great group of guys in there _ guys who have done it and guys who have had great careers. They’re going to go and battle. There are going to be games they pick us up and there are going to be games we pick them up.”
New York’s best scoring threat came in the second when the Yankees loaded the bases on a pair of two-out infield singles sandwiched around a walk. But Masterson struck out No. 9 hitter Alberto Gonzalez.
Kipnis put the Indians ahead in the first with his fifth homer, a 414-foot shot into the right-field seats. It could have been a two-run homer, but Michael Bourn was called out at second trying to steal. TV replays appeared to show Bourn got his foot in ahead of the tag, and he and Francona argued with second-base ump Brian Knight.
All five of Kipnis’ homers have come in the first inning.
NOTES: The Yankees had not been shut out in Cleveland since 2003 _ a span of 35 games. … Cano came in 8 for 19 in his career against Masterson, but went 0 for 4 with a strikeout. … Between games, the Yankees optioned Boesch to Triple-A Scranton and recalled RHP Brett Marshall. … Making his final visit to Cleveland, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was presented with a framed gold record album from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. … Yankees INF Kevin Youkilis (lumbar spine sprain) has resumed limited on-field work, playing catch and fielding grounders on the infield grass. … Rodriguez, coming back from hip surgery, continued hitting drills in an indoor cage and jogged as he started his second week of workouts at the Yankees’ complex in Tampa, Fla. Teixeira (right wrist) continued taking batting practice and running the bases. RHP Ivan Nova, who experienced soreness in his ribs while playing toss on Sunday, said he will not throw for at least a couple days.
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