Giambi helps Indians end five-game slide

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

CLEVELAND -- When they signed 42-year-old Jason Giambi as a free agent last winter, Cleveland Indians officials talked a lot about the intangibles he brings to the team.
Wednesday night the tangibles were pretty good, too.
Giambi belted a three-run home run in the sixth inning that was the difference in the game as the Indians snapped their five-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
"He's got some wear on his tires, but he's a very intelligent hitter, and he can do some damage," said Indians manager Terry Francona. "He fits our situation perfectly and he still has that presence when he is in the batter's box."
With the Indians clinging to a 2-1 lead, two outs and nobody on base in the bottom of the sixth, Asdrubal Cabrera and Nick Swisher singled off Reds starter Bronson Arroyo. Giambi then belted a 2-1 pitch over the right-field wall for his fourth home run.
"That was a big hit and we really needed it," said Francona.
It was Giambi's fourth home run of the season and the 433rd of his career. That's one shy of Juan Gonzalez and Andruw Jones, who are tied for 40th place on the all-time list.
Giambi, who hit a pinch-hit home run in a 4-2 loss in Cincinnati on Monday, seems to be finding his swing after a slow start this season; he was hampered recently by a stiff neck.
He's still only hitting .185, but he's one of the Indians' best hitters in the clutch. With runners in scoring position he is batting .412 (7-for-17) with two home runs and 14 RBI.
Giambi's career batting average vs. Arroyo is .381 (8-for-21) with four homers and eight RBI.
"He's seen me a lot over my career, and he saw everything I had tonight. I knew he'd be in the lineup because Terry (Francona) knows about our history," said Arroyo.
"There is no greater feeling than helping your club win a game. That's what brought me back," said Giambi. "Sometimes I wish I was 25 years old again, but I'm not -- as you guys saw with that stolen base attempt."
That came in a strange Cleveland fourth inning, when the Indians hit three consecutive doubles and added a walk, but only scored one run.
The third out in that inning was made by Giambi, who was thrown out trying to steal third base. Giambi hasn't had a stolen base or a stolen base attempt since 2010. He only has two stolen bases since 2008 and only has 20 stolen bases in his 19-year career.
"I overestimated my speed," said a chuckling Giambi of the failed attempt at a steal after he belted a double into right-centerfield. "It was a 3-2 pitch to (Carlos) Santana, I figured he'd get a fastball and would hit it, and I wanted to make sure I scored on it, but it backfired. It's the old saying, 'Don't think, kid, you're hurting the club.'"
Cleveland starter Justin Masterson pitched six innings, holding Cincinnati to one run on four hits as he improved his record to 8-3.
"Justin was tough," said Reds manager Dusty Baker. "He's their hottest pitcher, one of the hottest pitchers in baseball. He's always had good stuff, but he's really refined his skills."
Joey Votto's solo home run in the first inning was the only run allowed by Masterson, who escaped a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the top of the sixth when he got Todd Frazier to hit a grounder back to the mound that Masterson fielded and threw home to start a 1-2-3 double play.
"That's what I was hoping for, a ball hit back to me, but you don't always get what you're hoping for," said Masterson, who then retired Ryan Hanigan on a fly ball for the third out.
Given that 5-1 lead after the sixth inning, Cleveland's struggling bullpen managed to protect it, with relievers Cody Allen, Joe Smith and Vinnie Pestano pitching the last three innings, although Pestano gave up a solo home run to Xavier Paul in the ninth inning.
Cleveland pitchers held the Reds to six hits, two of them by ex-Indian Brandon Phillips.
The early innings were a pitching duel between Masterson and Arroyo (5-5). Each allowed just one run on one hit, a solo home run, through the first three innings.
Votto, the third batter Masterson faced in the first inning, hit a 0-1 pitch over the center-field wall for his 10th home run. Cleveland tied it when Mark Reynolds hit Arroyo's first pitch of the bottom of the third into the left-field bleachers for his 13th home run.
NOTES: Indians C Lou Marson began a minor-league rehab assignment with Double-A Akron on Wednesday night. Marson has been on the disabled list sinceApril 25 with a right shoulder strain. ... Cleveland RHP Brett Myers had his scheduled rehab start at Triple-A Columbus this week scratched due to continued soreness in his right elbow. Myers has been on the DL since April 20. ... Cincinnati's Dusty Baker has 1,614 career wins as a manager. He needs six more victories to pass Ralph Houk for 16th place on the all-time list. ... Phillips has 140 home runs, second on the Reds' career list for a second baseman, two behind Joe Morgan.

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