Adam Dunn homered for the fourth straight game, and Joey Votto finished off the previously untouchable Lee with the first pinch-hit homer of his career Sunday, leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 6-4 victory and a three-game sweep.
“I haven’t seen that in a long time,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
Rare things happened all around.
For starters, no one had treated Lee (6-1) so roughly all season.
The left-hander came into the game on an amazing run, having allowed only four earned runs and one homer all season for an ERA of 0.67. Now it’s up to 1.37. Cincinnati’s left-handed swingers got the best of him, deciding a matchup of the majors’ two stingiest starters.
Both homers came on belt-high pitches right down the middle, the type of mistake that Lee had avoided until Sunday.
“Both of the pitches to Dunn and Votto I wish I had back,” Lee said. “Sometimes you don’t get the results you want. Today was one of those games.”
Edinson Volquez (7-1) gave up four hits and a pair of runs in six innings, raising his earned run average from 1.12 to 1.33. Cleveland’s Michael Aubrey, a first-round draft pick called up a day earlier, homered for his first hit in the majors.
It was the first time Volquez had given up more than one earned run in a game this season.
“I didn’t have my best stuff today,” Volquez said. “I didn’t feel I had too much energy. My arm was not as strong as it used to be.”
Still, it was good enough to get him the win and let him take over the major leagues’ ERA lead.
“That’s what I’m looking for,” said Volquez, who came from Texas in the Josh Hamilton trade and has dominated with his 94 mph fastball and darting changeup. “I want to be somebody special in the big leagues.”
Lee’s run of special starts hit a wall.
The left-hander gave up 10 hits and six runs (five earned) in only 5 2-3 innings, more runs than he had allowed in his seven previous starts combined. It was a stunning setback for Lee, who came in with a 10-1 career mark in interleague games, the best around.
“I made a couple of bad pitches and we lost,” Lee said.
He and the Indians hit town at the wrong time.
The Reds emerged from a season-long funk by sweeping all six games on their homestand for their longest winning streak of the season. They’ve managed to climb out of last place in the NL Central.
The Indians got swept in Cincinnati for the first time because they couldn’t get clutch hits and they couldn’t handle a lineup that is finally starting to hit.
“A bad series,” manager Eric Wedge said. “We didn’t play very well, we didn’t hit very well. You do that, you’re going to get beat. You’re going to get beat like this.”
Dunn was the difference-maker, driving in the go-ahead run in all three weekend games. He had a bases-loaded walk for 4-3 victory in the opener, then hit a three-run homer in the ninth for a 4-2 on Saturday.
Against Lee, he connected on a belt-high pitch for his 10th homer and a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning.
“Those are the same pitches I was grounding out on or popping up or striking out,” said Dunn, batting .221. “I knew I was going to start hitting. They’re the same pitches. That’s what I’ve been dealing with all year.”
Votto’s two-run homer in the sixth put the Reds up 6-2 and ended Lee’s outing.
“I got pretty lucky today,” Votto said.
Francisco Cordero pitched the ninth for his ninth save in 10 chances.
Thanks to interleague play, the 34,612 fans got to see only the third matchup of league ERA leaders. The other two times it happened, the outcome wasn’t as low-scoring as expected, either.
The Indians lead the intrastate series 29-25. The teams have their rematch in Cleveland from June 27-29. … Casey Blake’s RBI single in the fourth snapped Cleveland’s 0-for-21 streak with runners in scoring position during the series. … Dunn’s streak of homers in four straight games matches his career high. He also did it in August 2004 and June 2006. … The series remains popular in Cincinnati, drawing 110,068 for the three games.
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