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Indians end losing skid with 19-6 blowout

The SportsXchange

HOUSTON -- For one night at least, the Cleveland Indians can disregard all of that bothersome chatter about their team-wide offensive slump.

With seven members of their starting lineup recording multi-hit games, the Indians snapped their five-game losing skid by bashing the Houston Astros 19-6 on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.

Michael Brantley (2-for-6, three RBI), Nick Swisher (4-for-7, two RBI), Jason Giambi (2-for-4, five RBI), Carlos Santana (2-for-5, two RBI) and Mark Reynolds (2-for-4, four RBI) had multi-RBI games as the Indians (6-10) totaled 22 hits and hit 11-for-22 with runners in scoring position.

"We did a good job tonight," manager Terry Francona said. "The idea now is to be consistent. You're certainly not going to put up those kinds of numbers nightly, but try to bounce back tomorrow and go get them again."

Although the Astros held Cleveland scoreless over the final four innings, the 19 runs matched the most allowed by the Astros (5-12) in a home game.

"This is what you call a bump in the road," Astros manager Bo Porter said in reference to Saturday night marking the third time over the last week that a Houston starter failed to pitch beyond the first inning.

The Indians had scored just 11 runs during their five-game skid, and their offense ranked 12th in batting average (.230), 13th in runs (56) and dead last in the American League in RBI (53). Their performance on Friday night reflected their hitting woes, as Cleveland stranded nine base runners and finished 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

Astros right-hander Philip Humber (0-4) provided the tonic for what ailed the Indians. Cleveland chased him with an onslaught of extra-base hits in the first inning. Humber recorded just one out by the time leadoff hitter Brantley ended his night with a two-run double to center field in his second at-bat, scoring Lonnie Chisenhall and Drew Stubbs.

Brantley was the ninth consecutive batter to reach against Humber, following run-scoring doubles from Swisher and Giambi and a three-run home run to left field from Reynolds. Humber had little life on his four-seam fastball, evidenced by the manner in which Swisher, Giambi and Brantley pulverized it to register RBIs. Reynolds crushed an 0-1 slider.

"It was finally nice to go out there and relax and know we were in control of the game and just have some fun," Reynolds said. "It's what we talked about before the game was just to have fun."

After scoring eight runs in the first inning off Humber, Cleveland scored six more in the second against left-hander Dallas Keuchel. The Indians greeted another Astros left-hander, Travis Blackley, with a three-run fourth inning, all courtesy of Giambi and his 431st home run.

Houston pitchers waited until the sixth to post their first scoreless frame, with right-handers Rhiner Cruz and Paul Clemens combining for that modest feat. By that juncture, Cleveland enjoyed a 13-run lead.

"It's hard on the bullpen," Humber said. "We haven't exactly held our end of the bargain the last week or so, so we have to pick it up as starters."

Indians left-hander Scott Kazmir, making his first major-league start since April 3, 2011, did not take full advantage of that run support. Having opened the season on the disabled list with a right rib cage strain, Kazmir allowed home runs to Brandon Barnes in the second and Brandon Laird in the third before departing with one out in the fourth. The homers by Barnes and Laird represented the first for both in 2013.

Kazmir allowed six runs on seven hits and three walks with four strikeouts. He uncorked two wild pitches and labored in tossing 89 pitches. But this represented his first step on a long road back to viability in the majors.

"I guess it's just getting out there for the first time and emotions getting the best of you," Kazmir said. "You end up trying to strike everybody out. I don't know what it was, but I'm a guy that pitches off my fastball and I just didn't do that. Didn't get ahead of hitters and probably threw half as many breaking balls as I did fastballs, which is not my game."

NOTES: Indians right-hander Brett Myers will return to Cleveland on Sunday to undergo an MRI on his right forearm. Myers attributed a sudden drop in velocity during his start Friday night to a flexor tendon issue that dates back to spring training. ... The Astros placed outfielder J.D. Martinez on the 15-day disabled list with a right knee sprain suffered during his second at-bat Friday night. Houston activated outfielder Fernando Martinez from the DL. Fernando Martinez was placed on the DL with a strained left oblique on March 27 and completed a five-game rehab stint batting .111 for Class AAA Oklahoma City. The Astros also reinstated left-hander Blackley (shoulder strain) from the DL. ... To make room for Kazmir, Cleveland optioned infielder Cord Phelps to Class AAA Columbus. ... Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was pulled in the first inning with a left wrist contusion. Cabrera slipped on the dugout stairs just prior to the first pitch yet managed to single in his lone at-bat. He is day-to-day.
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