CINCINNATI (AP) Edwin Encarnacion talked his manager out of giving him a day off, and then delivered his best game yet for the Indians.
Encarnacion hit two of Cleveland’s four homers off rookie Amir Garrett and scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch Tuesday night, leading the Indians to an 8-7 victory and a split of their two-game series with the Cincinnati Reds.
The series moves to Cleveland for two games. The Indians have won seven of the last eight between Ohio’s teams.
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The most encouraging development for the defending AL champions was Encarnacion’s emergence. They signed him to a three-year, $60 million deal as their biggest move of the offseason, but the slugger slumped so badly that he was dropped from the cleanup spot after 36 games.
Manager Terry Francona was planning to give him a day off in Cincinnati , where he started his career in 2005 and loves to hit. Encarnacion talked him out of it.
”I’m glad I didn’t,” Francona said. ”I think he’s getting more dangerous. I think you’ll see – nights like this won’t be the only time.”
Encarnacion hit a two-run homer off Garrett and a solo shot for a 7-3 lead, his first multi-homer game with Cleveland . Encarnacion came into the series batting .207, but has felt better at the plate lately and wanted to play in one of his favorite ballparks.
”Yeah, of course,” he said. ”I feel really good. I’m feeling better every single day.”
Francisco Lindor and Yan Gomes also had solo homers off Garrett, who gave up seven hits in five innings – all but one for extra bases. In his last two starts, the left-hander has allowed 13 runs and six homers in nine innings.
”I didn’t throw Encarnacion anything special,” Garrett said. ”He just put a great swing on the ball.”
Carlos Carrasco was in line to move to 5-0 on the road this season, but Cleveland’s bullpen had an uncharacteristic meltdown in the seventh. Eugenio Suarez’s first career pinch-hit homer – a three-run shot off Bryan Shaw – tied it at 7.
Encarnacion reached on third baseman Scooter Gennett’s error in the eighth and came around on a wild pitch by Drew Storen (1-1). Cleveland improved to 18-0 when leading after six innings.
”It was a changeup away,” said Storen, who also walked a batter. ”Against a team like that, you can’t give them three baserunners, especially with a leadoff walk.”
Andrew Miller (3-0) got the win with the help of right fielder Daniel Robertson, who threw Jose Peraza out at the plate as he tried to score on a single in the bottom of the eighth. Cody Allen escaped a threat in the ninth and extended his franchise record by converting his 13th consecutive save opportunity to start a season.
Miller batted in the eighth and struck out swinging against Storen, his first plate appearance since July 2, 2011, for Boston. In the Indians’ dugout getting ready to hit, he asked about Storen’s second-best pitch, trying to think like a hitter.
”I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry,” Francona said.
Cleveland leads the series 55-46. The Indians are 1-4 overall in interleague play this season. The Reds are 3-4.
Encarnacion is the fifth opposing hitter with two homers in a game against the Reds this season. Eric Thames of Milwaukee has done it twice. … It was Encarnacion’s 26th career multi-homer game. … Lindor has hit safely in nine straight games for the Indians, while Michael Brantley has an eight-game streak. … The Indians have homered in a season-high nine straight games. … Peraza extended his hitting streak to a career-high 10 games. … Garrett doubled home a run with his first major league hit.
Indians: Carlos Santana was in the lineup, a day after he ran into the padded wall in right field while chasing a foul ball, hurting his back. Santana stayed in the game on Monday and felt good enough to play the second game of the series. He singled in three at-bats.
Reds: LHP Brandon Finnegan (sore pitching shoulder) and LHP Tony Cingrani (strained oblique) threw in the bullpen. Cingrani will have one more bullpen session this week and could begin a rehab stint in the minors.
Indians: RHP Trevor Bauer (4-4) will make his fourth career start against the Reds He’s 1-2 with a 5.52 ERA. He hasn’t faced them since 2015.
Reds: RHP Lisalverto Bonilla (0-2) gave up six runs in 5 1/3 innings of a 12-6 loss to Colorado on Friday. He’s facing the Indians for the first time.
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