CLEVELAND (AP)—Jody Gerut nearly did a cartwheel as he pulled into second base with an RBI double.
“I’ve never been so excited about a run before,” Gerut said.
The offensively challenged Indians gave rookie Billy Traber enough support, and he pitched seven sharp innings as Cleveland snapped a three-game losing streak with a 3-0 win Friday night over the Cincinnati Reds.
Traber (3-4) allowed five hits in his longest career outing and earned his first win as a starter. The 23-year-old left-hander, who moved into the rotation in May when Jason Bere was lost for the season, walked one and struck out five.
“He hit my glove all night,” catcher Tim Laker said. “Even when he was missing, he was just a hair off the plate.”
The Indians, who scored just three runs while being swept three straight by Kansas City, scored three times in the seventh inning off Danny Graves (3-7).
The Reds dropped to 1-6 on a 12-game, 14-day trip that began with a three-game sweep in Arizona.
“It’s frustrating,” shortstop Barry Larkin said. “They just beat us and we didn’t do much about it.”
Following Thursday’s 4-1 loss, Cleveland manager Eric Wedge was too upset with his team to scold the Indians about their lack of offense lately. So he held a pregame meeting Friday, and the Indians responded.
“It felt like we were feeling the weight of the universe with every swing we took,” Gerut said. “Whenever you have team meetings before games about offense you usually struggle. Tonight, we didn’t.”
Actually, the Indians did for six innings.
Graves limited Cleveland to two hits until the seventh, which Milton Bradley opened with a double and went to third on a wild pitch.
Gerut followed with an opposite-field double off the wall in left for the game’s first run.
“I was so happy I got the ball in the air that I forgot to run,” Gerut said. “I should have had a triple. I felt like that one run would be the only one.”
He moved up anyway when second baseman Juan Castro threw away Ben Broussard’s grounder for an error. Ricky Gutierrez brought in Gerut with a groundout, and was safe at second when the Reds couldn’t turn the front end of a double play.
“One bad half-inning and that’s the game,” Graves said.
Until the seventh, the Indians had been unable to get any clutch hits lately. They went 3-for-6 in the inning with runners in scoring position after going 2-for-24 in the previous three games.
“We got the Royals out of town, so we knew we had a chance,” Laker said.
With two on in the sixth, Traber got Guillen to pop out to right and struck out Griffey looking.
Traber downplayed what might have been his best outing in the majors.
“On paper, probably,” he said. “But it’s not about me, it’s about we.”
Traber gave up three hits in the seventh, but again emerged unscathed.
Graves, who came up in the Indians’ organization, gave up three runs and six hits in his return to the rotation. The right-hander’s two previous appearanceswere in relief.
Following the game, the Indians optioned C Josh Bard to Triple-A Buffalo and recalled C Victor Martinez, who was batting .437 in June. … Cavaliers rookie LeBron James, taken with the No. 1 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft, took pregame batting practice and threw out the ceremonial first pitch. … Indians hitting coach Eddie Murray took plenty of batting practice before the game. The soon-to-be Hall of Famer will face Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt in a home run hitting contest Saturday in Baltimore when the Orioles honor their 1983 World Series win over Philadelphia. … The Indians are 14-11 against the Reds. … It was Cleveland’s third shutout this season and first since May 21. … The Reds were blanked for the second time this season. … Cleveland’s seven-game homerless drought is the club’s longest since eight in a row to endthe 1991 season.