Indians 9, Reds 4
Garko overcame a costly throwing error by hitting a three-run homer and Grady Sizemore had four hits including a two-run shot to help Cliff Lee remain perfect in interleague play as the Indians defeated the Cincinnati Reds 9-4 Friday night.
“That felt pretty good,” Garko said. “I was real happy to hit that one.”
Cleveland had 13 hits and improved baseball’s best home record to 15-3. The Indians have won eight in a row at Jacobs Field, outscoring opponents 64-28 during the streak.
Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips extended his career-best hitting streak to 20 games with a fourth-inning double, but the Reds lost for the eighth time in their past nine road games.
Lee (2-0) allowed two earned runs and six hits over six innings to improve to 8-0 in 11 career starts against NL opponents. The left-hander is 3-0 against the Reds and the Indians hold a 27-19 advantage over their intrastate rivals in 10 years of interleague play.
“My pitch count got up there real quick,” said Lee, who threw 55 pitches in the first two innings. “But the guys came back and just outscored them. Then it was my job to just throw strikes and keep us in it.”
Garko hit his sixth homer during a six-run second inning against Kyle Lohse (1-5) and reliever Victor Santos that gave Cleveland a 7-4 lead. Jhonny Peralta had a double and RBI single in the inning, which also included an RBI single by Sizemore and sacrifice fly by Casey Blake.
An error by Reds shortstop Alex Gonzalez preceded Garko’s homer.
“That’s a pretty good lineup and when you give them extra outs, you’re in trouble, and when you make bad pitches, you’re in trouble,” Reds manager Jerry Narron said.
Sizemore hit his seventh homer with one out and Garko on base after a single made it 9-4 in the third.
Sizemore went 4-for-5 and has hit .555 (10-for-18) in his past four games to raise his average 37 points to .276.
“I’m not doing anything different, really,” Sizemore said. “It’s only a couple games. I want to build off this and have even more consistent at-bats.”
Cleveland’s leadoff hitter singled, went to third on a single to right by Blake and scored on a groundout by Travis Hafner in the first to put Cleveland ahead 1-0.
The Reds came back with a four-run second.
Lee hit Adam Dunn to start the rally. With two on, first baseman Garko fielded a bunt and threw wildly trying to get Dunn at third. The error loaded the bases. One out later, Ryan Freel tripled to right-center for a 3-1 lead. Freel scored on a sacrifice fly by Phillips.
“A lot of times, you give up four in the second and it is pretty much over,” Lee said.
Lohse lost his fifth straight start. The right-hander, winless in six starts since beating the Chicago Cubs on April 15, allowed seven hits and five earned runs over 1 1-3 innings—his shortest start since coming up to the majors in 2001 with Minnesota.
“They weren’t missing what I was missing with,” Lohse said. “If I missed away, they hit it. If I missed inside, they hit it. If I missed down the middle, they hit it.”
Lohse has an 8.03 ERA during his losing streak and fell to 2-7 with an 8.08 ERA in nine career starts at Jacobs Field.
Indians RHP Roberto Hernandez struck out the side on 10 pitches in the seventh. … Indians RF Trot Nixon played in his 100th consecutive errorless game. … Sizemore had one stolen base and is 15-for-15 in steal attempts this season. … Cleveland is 23-5 when scoring four or more runs. … The Reds have been outscored 39-17 over their past seven games. … Peralta had three hits and has 18 RBIs in his past 17 games. Reds RF Ken Griffey Jr. went 1-for-3 and is hitting .365 (23-for-63) with seven homers and 16 RBIs in May.