Two Santana Shots and Strong Tomlin Send Tribe to Fourth Straight; Indians 6, Reds 2

It took nearly two months, but the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds finally completed their four-game season series on Monday night as the Tribe, backed by six quality innings from Josh Tomlin and a pair of homers from each side of the plate by Carlos Santana, defeated their in-state rivals with a 6-2 victory.

The Indians (52-45) moved to seven games over the .500 mark and held their ground in the American League Central, with both the second place and third place clubs making trades for pitching prior to the Indians’ one-game date with the Reds from Progressive Field.

Tomlin (7-9, 5.59 ERA) pitched his third consecutive quality start and won his third straight decision, with all coming against interleague opponents. He is now responsible for three of the team’s five victories against the National League this season. He lasted six innings and allowed just two runs on four hits, with both runs coming via solo home runs. He was again the model of efficiency, pitch-wise, as he needed just 72 pitches to clear his six innings of work before handing the game over to the bullpen tandem of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen, who combined for three innings of scoreless, one-hit baseball while striking out three.

One of the four hits allowed by Tomlin came to the leadoff hitter, Billy Hamilton, who reached on an infield single to start the game. He was doubled up on a grounder by All-Star Zack Cozart and after Joey Votto lined out, the Indians struck quickly against Reds starter Tim Adleman.

Making his second career start against the Indians, Adleman gave up a leadoff double high off of the wall in center to Bradley Zimmer. He moved to third on a bunt single by Francisco Lindor, setting the stage for an easy run on a sacrifice fly to center by Michael Brantley. Lindor, however, was doubled up at first base by Hamilton after attempting to steal second prior to Brantley’s fly ball. The play would prove costly as Edwin Encarnacion doubled off of the wall in left with the next pitch. Jose Ramirez grounded to first to end the inning, but the Indians had a 1-0 lead.

Both pitchers put up an impressive display in the early innings. Tomlin struck out six consecutive batters, his total for the night, after striking out Devin Mesoraco to end the second, Scott Schebler, Patrick Kivlehan, and Jose Peraza in order in the third, and Hamilton and Cozart to start the fourth. Adleman attempted to match him by striking out the side in order in the home half of the third.

The Indians would hold their lead until the top of the fifth, when Scooter Gennett left the yard with a solo shot to right. His 18th homer of the season tied the game at one.

Santana - Jason Miller/Getty Images
Santana – Jason Miller/Getty Images

Cleveland would counter with a pair of runs of its own in response in the bottom of the inning. Santana worked a leadoff walk and after Giovanny Urshela lined out, Abraham Almonte walked. Roberto Perez blasted a double to deep center to score Santana to give the Indians the lead and a sacrifice fly by Zimmer put the Indians up, 3-1.

The Reds would cut their deficit in half in the sixth, when with two outs, Cozart homered to the Home Run Porch to make it a 3-2 game. It would be the last of the Reds’ runs on the night, but the Indians were not finished with Adleman, nor the Cincy bullpen.

Santana led off the bottom of the seventh well stretched out, clouting a homer to right-center to extend the Indians lead to 4-2. Urshela walked on four straight, ending the night of Adleman and bringing former Cleveland reliever Blake Wood on in relief. He allowed a single to Almonte and walked Perez to load the bases before Zimmer delivered with an RBI-single to right to make it a 5-2 game. With the bases still loaded and nobody out, the Indians failed to blow the game open as Lindor and Brantley both went down swinging before Encarnacion lined out.

Miller worked the seventh and eighth for the Indians, giving up a one-out single in his first inning before racking up two strikeouts in the eighth. Before Allen could take the mound for the ninth, Santana homered again, this time in his first at bat of the game from the right side of the plate against lefty reliever Tony Cingrani, to make it a 6-2 contest. Allen hit Votto to start the ninth, but struck out Eugenio Suarez before getting Gennett to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the ball game.

The win evened the Ohio Cup series with Cincinnati at two games each.

The Reds left town after the game for the Big Apple, where they will play two quick games in a span of 18 hours with the New York Yankees beginning Tuesday night. The Indians will host the Los Angeles Angels Tuesday night to start a three-game series to wrap up their homestand.

Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images

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