The worst thing that could be said about Corey Kluber’s performance Monday night is that he gave up a run and didn’t go the full nine innings.
Kluber gave up one run on six hits in 7 1/3 innings of work – his first earned run given up in 25 innings and overall in 17 – and got more than enough offensive support as the Indians tagged the Reds for two home runs in a 7-1 interleague victory. With the win, the Tribe is five games back of the Tigers and three back for the second wild card spot in the American League.
Kluber got into a little bit of a jam in the top of the eighth, with two on and one out in a 5-1 ballgame. Manager Terry Francona lifted Kluber for Nick Hagadone, who gave up a double to Brayan Pena, scoring Jay Bruce for the Reds’ only run of the game. When Ryan Ludwick was called to pinch-hit for Skip Schumaker, Francona went to John Axford, who got Ludwick to fly out to right and Jack Hannahan to ground out to shortstop Jose Ramirez.
Axford came on again in the ninth and gave up a leadoff double to pinch-hitter Donald Lutz, followed by a walk to Zack Cozart. But Axford faced down the top of the order, getting Billy Hamilton to strike out, followed by groundouts by Bruce and Todd Frazier. It was Axford’s 10th save of the year, but first since May 1.
Axford came into a save situation in the eighth, and got a little breathing room in the ninth when Yan Gomes crushed a Carlos Contreras offering to the left-field home run porch for his 15th home run of the year, a two-run dinger that broke the game open. It was the second home run of the night for the Indians, who never trailed in the game.
Following back-to-back singles by Michael Brantley and Carlos Santana to start the fourth inning, Lonnie Chisenhall tagged a pitch from Alfredo Simon, who ended up taking the loss, into the bullpen in right field. It was Chisenhall’s 11th round-tripper of the season – and his only hit of the night.
Ramirez, who has been filling the void at shortstop since Asdrubal Cabrera was traded to Washington last week, made his first error for the Indians this year, but it was the team’s 85th, which leads the majors.
The Indians got on the board in the first when Jason Kipnis scored on a Brantley groundout. It was the first of two RBI for Dr. Smooth, who singled home Ramirez in the fifth inning.