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Paul's presence provides another win for Reds

The SportsXchange

CINCINNATI -- Reds left fielder Xavier Paul is well aware of the team's record when he's in the starting lineup, but he'd prefer to ignore it.

"I don't want to jinx anything," Paul said. "I just hope things stay that way."

Paul highlighted an 18-hit attack with three hits and two RBI, and right-hander Mat Latos remained undefeated as Cincinnati rolled to an 8-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians in the finale of a two-game interleague series on Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park.

Cincinnati (33-19) improved to a major-league best 20-7 at home, and 20-3 when Paul starts.

"As a team, we're pitching well and hitting well," said Paul, who was thrust into a more regular role when regular left fielder Ryan Ludwick was injured on Opening Day. "Anytime you can jump on the board early and give Mat some run support the way he's throwing, it feels good."

The teams now travel to Cleveland to begin a two-game series on Wednesday night at Progressive Field.

Latos (5-0) pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing one run and five hits. He walked four and fanned seven.

"He had a real good curve ball," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "It was hard to pick up."

Zack Cozart went 3 for 5 with a double for Cincinnati.

Michael Bourn went 2 for 4 with an RBI for Cleveland (27-24), which now has lost five straight games and seven of its past eight.

Indians starter Zach McAllister (4-4) allowed three runs and 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings. He walked one and struck out six.

"I didn't have my best stuff or my best location, but I was able to get out of some jams," he said. "It's one of those things where I was just out of sync. I was able to minimize the damage to three runs."

But the Indians' bullpen suffered through yet another late-inning meltdown.

Jack Hannahan and pinch-hitter Derrick Robinson contributed RBI singles off Bryan Shaw, and Cozart added an RBI hit off Scott Barnes to highlight a four-run seventh for Cincinnati.

Shaw allowed four earned runs and five hits in one-third of an inning.

"We go game to game, but every game is different," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We've had some outings where it's getting away from us and it hurts your chances to win. But I think we have a good bullpen and we'll regroup tomorrow."

McAllister, who hadn't allowed more than three earned runs in any of his nine starts, gave up three in the first inning.

Shin-Soo Choo led off with a ground-rule double, then scored on Joey Votto's RBI single to center to put the Reds ahead 1-0. A two-out, two-run single by Paul made the score 3-0.

"Tonight was a battle for him," Francona said of McAllister. "He had a high pitch count, more than he has. That first inning was a tough inning. After that, he dodged traffic every inning, it seemed, but he never gave in."

Aside from a leadoff single by Bourn in the first, Latos allowed just two walks through four innings with six strikeouts.

Bourn's RBI single drove home Drew Stubbs with the Tribe's first run in the fifth.

Cincinnati had runners in scoring position in the third, fourth and fifth, but McAllister was able to work out of trouble.

"I didn't like the way the game was going," said Baker, whose club went 7 for 22 with runners in scoring position. "We left a lot of runs out there. It was still a 3-1 score for a while."

Despite some buildup after Reds closer Aroldis Chapman threw two fastballs past Nick Swisher's head in the ninth inning on Monday, Tuesday's game was played with minimal drama.

Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, a former Indian, was hit by a McAllister pitch with first base open in the fifth, but the Cleveland starter insisted it wasn't intentional.

"I was trying to go in there and it just went in a little too far," he said.

NOTES: Both teams indicated they'd moved on after Chapman threw two fastballs over Swisher's head in the ninth inning on Monday. "I think when something like that happens and a guy throws hard, it certainly makes you pause," Francona said. "Most of the time as a hitter, you move on. You saw Swisher, it riled him up." Baker said, "It was taken care of by me. I addressed it. But it's not for public consumption." ... Indians right-handed closer Chris Perez received encouraging news when an MRI performed Monday revealed minor tendinitis in his right rotator cuff and no structural damage. Perez, placed on the 15-day disabled list, is expected to begin a throwing program within 5-7 days. ... Cincinnati now owns a major-league best 18-5 record since May 3.
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