CLEVELAND -- Corey Kluber is the least publicized pitcher in the Cleveland Indians' rotation, but, at this point in the season, he also is the best pitcher in the rotation.
Kluber pitched eight scoreless innings Sunday to lead the Indians to a 2-0 victory over the Washington Nationals. It was Kluber's second consecutive outstanding start, the other coming in a 5-2 win at Texas.
In his last two starts Kluber is 2-0 with an ERA of 0.56. In those two starts Kluber has allowed one run on 13 hits, with 11 strikeouts and one walk in 16 innings.
His record overall this season improved to 5-4, with a 3.58 ERA.
The Indians won two of the three games in the weekend series with Washington, and their pitching in their two wins was sensational. In a 2-1 win on Friday, Justin Masterson and two relievers combined on a two-hitter. On Sunday, Kluber and reliever Vinnie Pestano combined on a seven-hit shutout.
Washington starter Stephen Strasburg was activated off the disabled list prior to Sunday's game, and he made his first start since May 31. Strasburg pitched five innings, and the only hit he allowed drove in the only run he gave up.
Strasburg walked two batters in the first inning, and then retired eight batters in a row before walking Jason Kipnis with one out in the fourth inning. Kipnis stole second and went to third on a throwing error by Nationals catcher Jhonatan Solano.
Carlos Santana followed with a single up the middle, scoring Kipnis and giving Cleveland a 1-0 lead.
Strasburg was removed from the game after the fifth inning. He was charged with one run on one hit, with four walks and four strikeouts.
Kluber, who threw 114 pitches in his eight innings of work, was hampered at times by the Indians' shoddy defense, which has made five errors in the last two games. Twice in the space of three innings, Kluber was faced with runners at first and third with no outs. Errors led to those situations. But Kluber pitched out of both jams without a runner scoring.
In the fourth inning Kuber did so by striking out three batters in a row: Adam LaRoche, Jayson Werth, and Ian Desmond. In the sixth inning, Kluber pitched out of an identical jam by striking out Ryan Zimmerman and getting LaRoche to ground into an inning-ending double play.
The Indians added an insurance run in the eighth inning, when Michael Bourn doubled, went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Mike Aviles and scored on a sacrifice fly by Kipnis.
Notes: Reliever Xavier Cedeno was optioned by the Nationals to Class AAA Syracuse prior to the game to make room on the roster for Strasburg. . . Washington second baseman Anthony Rendon had three hits in his last four at bats Saturday and hits in his first three at-bats Sunday. . . Indians first baseman Nick Swisher, who has been bothered by a sore left shoulder, did not play Sunday. . . Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco has finished serving his seven-game suspension for intentionally throwing at a hitter earlier this season. He will start Monday night vs. Kansas City.