The AL Central-leading Indians (24-14) are on a seven-game home winning streak that has helped them to the best home mark in baseball at 14-3. Two of the “home” victories came at Milwaukee’s Miller Park from April 10-12, when the Indians faced the Los Angeles Angels in a three-game set there due to a snowstorm in Cleveland.
The Indians are dominating opponents at Jacobs Field, outscoring them 55-24 and batting .316 during the seven-game win streak. They are one win shy of matching last season’s longest run at home, set from Aug. 9-26.
The Indians completed a three-game sweep of Minnesota on Thursday with a 2-0 victory, as Fausto Carmona threw a four-hitter and Victor Martinez and Ryan Garko hit consecutive home runs off Johan Santana in the seventh inning.
Garko is on a tear at Jacobs Field this season, hitting .349 in 12 games. He’s batting .295 in 17 road contests.
Cleveland looks to Cliff Lee (1-0, 4.50 ERA) to extend the home success as he tries to rebound from a shaky outing Sunday. The left-hander allowed four runs and seven hits with three walks in five innings of a 10-7 loss at Oakland.
“I’m never happy with just going five innings,” Lee told the team’s official Web site. “I have nobody to blame but myself. I was walking too many guys and getting behind in the count too many times.”
Lee is 7-0 with a 3.54 ERA in 10 starts against NL opponents, including 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA in his last two outings against the Reds - both away from Cleveland.
The Indians, who went 8-10 in interleague play in 2006, split six meetings with Cincinnati last season as each team took two of three on the road.
The Reds (16-25), who went 6-9 against the AL last season, hope a visit to Cleveland can help them close out a nine-game road trip on a positive note. They’ve lost five of six on the trip so far, contributing to a 3-12 overall stretch that has dropped them to the bottom of the NL Central.
“It’s another three games against one of the best,” Reds left fielder Adam Dunn told the team’s official Web site about facing the Indians. “We’ve had a tough stretch. We can’t sit there and cry about it. Play better.”
Cincinnati’s frustration during the stretch appeared to be growing after Bronson Arroyo walked in the winning run on the final pitch of a 3-2 loss at San Diego on Wednesday.
“It’s not why we lost - because of a ball-four borderline pitch,” Reds catcher David Ross said. “If we dwell on that pitch, we’re dwelling on the wrong things.”
The Reds might prefer to dwell on their .218 batting average in the last six games, during which they’ve been outscored 30-13.
They hope Kyle Lohse (1-4, 4.01) can help them bounce back as he tries to avoid matching a career high of five consecutive losing decisions. He last dropped five decisions in a row from July 7-Aug. 9, 2005 with Minnesota, but his current slide has come in consecutive starts.
Lohse has a 6.56 ERA during his losing streak and is coming off his shortest outing of the season. The right-hander lasted only four innings and gave up five of his six runs in that inning in a 7-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday.
Lohse, who spent five-plus seasons with Minnesota, has struggled at Cleveland, going 2-6 with a 7.84 ERA in eight starts - all with the Twins. He has dropped his last four games at Jacobs Field since winning there on Sept. 13, 2003.