ANAHEIM -- Vernon Wells stepped into the batter's box in the bottom of the 12th inning of a 3-3 game on Wednesday against the Cleveland Indians having gone hitless in his last 16 at-bats and mired in a 4-for-48 slump. While one hit might not be enough to break him out of such a slump, Wells' single certainly won't hurt his cause.
Wells singled off Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera with one out in the 12th, and then scored the game-winning run on Jeff Mathis' bases-loaded sacrifice fly to centerfield to lead the Angels to a 4-3 win over the Indians. With the win, the Halos took the series, two games to one.
"He needed that," said Torii Hunter, who knocked a two-run homer in the fourth inning and nearly ended the game with a deep fly that barely hooked foul in the 12th.
"He needed that to start a rally. He hit the ball hard. Stir it up and get that feeling of hitting the ball hard. Hopefully, it carries over into the Chicago White Sox series."
Wells said that he's been spent extra time recently hitting off tees in an effort to solve his early-season funk, and he finally started to feel more comfortable at the plate on Wednesday. The at-bat that preceded his single, even though it ended with a harmless pop to second, felt more natural to Wells and set the stage for the 12th-inning breakthrough.
"Just missed that pitch, and I took a pitch and I was, like, 'Oh, that's how I'm supposed to be taking pitches,'" Wells said. "It's starting to come. Better swings. We're hitting off the tee; we're doing all kinds of stuff and just taking as many swings as possible, but it's getting close. Once I get dialed in, [it'll] take off from there."
Given the Angels' offensive production in the three games against the Indians, they need Wells to resemble the player that hit .280 with 223 home runs in 12 seasons in Toronto.
Los Angeles was unable to get a single hit with a runner in scoring position in the series, going 0-for-12, and scored six runs in the three games.
The Angels got on the board in the bottom of the fourth when Howie Kendrick led off the inning with a double into the left-center-field gap off Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco. Kendrick took an ambitious turn at second base, and scurried back to safety as Cabrera tried to pick him off at second. Cabrera's throw, high and wide of the bag, bounced into the visitors' dugout, allowing Kendrick to score on the error.
Two batters later, Hunter went deep to give the Angels a 3-1 lead.
"In that [fourth] inning, [Carrasco] was off a little bit, and they took advantage of him," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "But he pitched great. He did a great job for us."
But that was all the Angels could muster in the first 11 innings, as Carrasco and the Indians' pen shut them down from there.
It seemed three runs would be enough to eke out a victory, given how Ervin Santana finally put together a quality start against Cleveland. In nine previous starts, he was a combined 0-6 with a 5.14 ERA.
This time, Santana limited the Indians to five hits and two runs through seven innings, but a leadoff single by Adam Everett in the top of the eighth ended Santana's night. Scott Downs came out of the bullpen and promptly gave up a single to Michael Brantley to put runners on first and second with no outs.
"Ervin, I think he set a tone early," Mike Scioscia said. "They got a run in the first, and outside of that, he pitched a strong ballgame into the eighth and just couldn't get the leadoff hitter, Everett. Really pitched well with his fastball, moving into locations. Terrific breaking ball this afternoon and definitely did what he was supposed to do."
After Everett was gunned down trying to score on a grounder to third, the Angels appeared likely to exit the inning with their lead intact. But a wild pitch allowed both runners to advance, and Brantley tied the game on a Shin-Soo Choo groundout.
The Halos prevented further damage in the eighth, and LA bullpen continued its streak of strong pitching over the next four innings. Downs, Fernando Rodney, Jordan Walden and Hisanori Takahashi combined to strike out four and gave up just one hit and two walks in five innings. The Angels bullpen is now on a 23 1/3 consecutive scoreless inning streak.
"I think the Kansas City series was really a struggle for some of the guys in the bullpen to get their feet on the ground," Scioscia said. "As we've moved forward, they've been terrific."
And if Wells mirrors the bullpen's turnaround, the Angels could be in business.
"We'll see," Scioscia said. "Vernon has to take baby steps, and when he finds it, he usually finds it in a big way for a long time."
David Ely is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.