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Josh Naylor's 17th homer, Tyler Freeman's spectacular catches lift Guardians to 5-3 win over Reds

CINCINNATI (AP) — Josh Naylor hit his 17th homer and Tyler Freeman made two impressive defensive plays, helping the Cleveland Guardians beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-3 on Tuesday night in the opener of the Ohio Cup series.

Steven Kwan hit a two-run double for AL Central-leading Cleveland, which earned its third consecutive win. Triston McKenzie (3-3) pitched 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball, and Emmanuel Clase worked a shaky ninth for his 20th save.

The Guardians went ahead to stay with three runs in the third against Nick Martinez (2-4). Kwan hit a two-run double and scored on Naylor's single.

The Reds had jumped in front on Jeimer Candelario's RBI double in the first. But they lost out on a chance for more because of back-to-back spectacular catches by Freeman in center.

First, Freeman ran down Spencer Steer's flyball against the wall in deep center. Then he made a leaping grab to rob Jake Fraley of a homer, ending the threat.

“Any time you rob a homer, it’s sick,” Cleveland manager Stephen Vogt said. "Those were huge plays there. It could have gone a lot different if he didn’t make those plays there. He keeps getting better and better.”

Cincinnati trimmed Cleveland's lead to 3-2 when Elly De La Cruz walked, advanced on a groundout and scored on Steer's single in the sixth.

But Naylor responded with a 425-foot drive to right against Fernando Cruz in the eighth, and then drove in another run with a bases-loaded fielder's choice in the ninth.

Clase allowed a two-out RBI single by Jonathan India and cracked Blake Dunn's helmet with a 101-mph cutter before retiring TJ Friedl on a liner to shortstop, ending the game.

Lacking a fifth starter, Cincinnati manager David Bell used seven pitchers out of his bullpen. Brent Suter tossed a scoreless first inning as the opener.

“It’s kind of the way we had the game set up," Bell said. “Everyone did their job. We came up short but pretty good effort right there by everyone out of the bullpen.”

Kwan said the Guardians' video technology staff accurately prepared the hitters for the Cincinnati pitchers they were likely to see.

“Nothing was out of the ordinary," he said. "If we don’t have those guys (on the staff), it could feel like a free-for-all.”

TRAINER'S ROOM

Guardians: Vogt said Ben Lively will make his next start after the right-hander underwent some tests because of some “tightening” he felt while pitching Saturday night in Miami.

Reds: INF Christian Encarnacion-Strand (wrist) will be re-evaluated in the next couple days. He could need season-ending surgery, Bell said.

WORTH NOTING

The Reds sent infielder Noelvi Marte to Triple-A Louisville for a 15-game rehab assignment. Marte was suspended before the season for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. One of Cincinnati's top prospects, Marte is eligible to play in the majors again June 27.

UP NEXT

The Guardians send right-hander Tanner Bibee to the mound to face Reds lefty Nick Lodolo in the second of the two-game series on Wednesday.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB