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Joyce hits 1st spring homer, Tropeano solid in key start for Angels in 4-3 win over Indians

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TEMPE, Arizona — Matt Joyce hit his first spring training homer and Angels starter Nick Tropeano took a step forward in his quest for a rotation spot, leading Los Angeles to a 4-3 win over the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday.

Making his second Cactus League start and third appearance, Tropeano allowed two hits and three runs — none earned — in four innings. He's one of several candidates hoping to break camp in the Angels' starting rotation.

The Angels pushed Tropeano back a day and moved left-hander Hector Santiago to a "B'' game Wednesday so they could take a closer look at Tropeano, acquired in the offseason trade that sent catcher Hank Conger to Houston.

"Nick took a big step forward today even though that one inning got a little bit long," manager Mike Scioscia said, referring to Cleveland's three-run fourth. "A couple of groundballs, we didn't make plays for him."

Also in the rotation hunt are Santiago and Andrew Heaney, both left-handers, and right-hander Drew Rucinski. Right-hander Garrett Richards is on the mend from knee surgery and is likely out until mid-April.

Tropeano retired nine of his first 10 batters, yielding only a walk through three innings.

Cleveland right-hander Josh Tomlin gave up nine hits and two runs over four innings in his second Cactus League start. He missed one start with right shoulder fatigue and was coming off a four-inning stint in a minor league game.

Tomlin, also trying to win a rotation spot, was 6-9 with a 4.76 ERA last year. He pitched out of two jams in the first two innings as two Angels runners were thrown out at the plate.

Joyce went deep in the third.

Dustin Hood had an RBI single for the Indians. Joyce made a diving catch in left field on a sacrifice fly by Brett Hayes.

Joyce, who missed some time with a pulled hamstring, looked slower than usual when he got thrown out on a relay to home plate while trying to score on C.J. Cron's double in the first.

"He ran out of gas," Scioscia said. "But his swing looks great and that's what we're looking at right now."

Joyce had nine homers and 52 RBIs with Tampa Bay in 2014. He and Cron figure to get more at-bats this season due to the uncertain status of outfielder Josh Hamilton.

PHOTO: Los Angeles Angels' Taylor Featherston slides safely under the pick-off tag of Cleveland Indians' Jesus Aguilar during the second inning of a spring training baseball game, Wednesday, March 25, 2015, Tempe, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Matt York)
Los Angeles Angels' Taylor Featherston slides safely under the pick-off tag of Cleveland Indians' Jesus Aguilar during the second inning of a spring training baseball game, Wednesday, March 25, 2015, Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

STARTING TIME

Indians: Tomlin struck out two and walked one. "It was kind of typical Josh. He gave up some hits, but he hangs in there and he doesn't beat himself," manager Terry Francona said.

Angels: Tropeano got in four games, all starts, with Houston in 2014 and went 1-3 with a 4.87 ERA. He had the lowest ERA in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League (3.03) while posting a 9-5 mark for Oklahoma City.

"Overall, I felt that my off-speed pitches were working well for me," the 2011 first-round draft pick said of Wednesday's outing.

He said he was aware the Angels pushed him back to get a closer look at him, but stopped short of saying Wednesday was a tryout for him.

"They just wanted some more eyes on me this time out," Tropeano said. "Obviously, it's a good thing if they want to do that. I'm here for a reason. I've got to run away with it."

Santiago was very sharp in the "B'' game, striking out nine in six innings and allowing one earned run.

Scioscia said the Angels won't need a fifth starter until April 14 and was vague about the rotation.

"There are some things as far as (general manager Jerry Dipoto) might or might not want to do as far as the administrative end of it," Scioscia said. "We'll just see what's going on."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Indians outfielder David Murphy returned from a sprained right ankle and went 1 for 4 as the DH.

UP NEXT

Indians: Danny Salazar makes his fourth spring start Thursday against Cincinnati.

Angels: Jered Weaver faces the Chicago Cubs. Weaver has whiffed 11 over his last two outings.

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