Indians 2, Pirates 0

The Indians can’t score for Justin Masterson, who gets less run

support than any other starter in the AL.

He’s found a way to deal with it.

”I’ve got to make sure no one scores,” he said. ”That’s your

job as the pitcher.”

Masterson pitched seven effective innings, working out of jams

three times, and Cleveland snapped a three-game losing streak with

a 2-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.

Masterson (3-6) allowed four hits, struck out nine and ended his

own three-game slide. He wriggled out of threats in the fourth,

sixth and seventh innings, and got a huge defensive play from

second baseman Jason Kipnis in the sixth.

Vinnie Pestano worked the eighth and Chris Perez pitched the

ninth for his major league-leading 21st save as the Indians bounced

back after being swept in a series at Cincinnati. Perez, who always

seems to make it interesting, gave up a leadoff single before

getting a fly ball and game-ending double play.

Carlos Santana hit an RBI double in the third off James McDonald

(5-3) and Michael Brantley extended baseball’s longest hitting

streak this season to 22 games with a run-scoring single in the

eighth.

”What streak?” Brantley said, afraid to jinx himself.

The Pirates have lost four straight and were shut out for the

sixth time this season.

Masterson hadn’t won since May 24, when he beat reigning AL MVP

and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander 2-1. Masterson had

dropped his previous three outings despite pitching well in two of

them. He lost 2-0 in St. Louis in his last start, when he gave up

one run in seven innings.

The right-hander had the Pirates flailing at a wicked slider

that slid across the plate and out of the strike zone. During one

stretch from the second through fourth innings, he recorded seven

consecutive outs with strikeouts.

”He was terrific,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. ”He had

the best slider I’ve seen this year.”

For whatever reason, the Indians’ offense struggles when

Masterson is on the mound. He has received two or fewer runs in

eight straight starts and 11 of 14 this season.

”Trust me, the offense is very well aware of that as I’m sure

he is too,” Kipnis said. ”We want to give him all the runs that

he deserves. But after that series we just had in Cincinnati, for

him to come out and give us that kind of start was

tremendous.”

Masterson got into trouble in the fourth when the Pirates loaded

the bases on a pair of walks and a single. But the 6-foot-6

Masterson struck out Jose Tabata on one of those filthy sliders to

end the threat.

In the sixth, he gave up a leadoff ground-rule double to Neil

Walker, who advanced to third on Andrew McCutchen’s groundout.

Garrett Jones hit a soft fly to shallow right that Kipnis ran down

with an over-the-shoulder catch. He then spun around and fired a

one-hop throw to the plate to keep Walker at third.

Masterson retired Casey McGehee on a grounder to Kipnis to end

the inning.

”It was a phenomenal play,” Brantley said of Kipnis’ effort.

”That was a big momentum shift right there.”

Danger loomed again in the seventh, and this time by Masterson’s

own wildness. He allowed a one-out walk, hit a batter with two outs

and threw a wild pitch. But with runners at second and third, he

got Alex Presley on a lazy fly to left and walked to the dugout to

a thundering ovation from the Progressive Field crowd.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said his young hitters tried to do

too much against Masterson, expanding the strike zone when they had

him on the ropes.

”Who’s in trouble there?” he said. ”We need to have a better

understanding and awareness when we’re in the (batter’s) box. We

worked outside our comfort zone. It is like, `I’ve got a chance to

be a hero here.’ It has to be that you can be the guy if you get a

good pitch and then hit it.”

McDonald was nearly as good as Masterson, allowing one run and

three hits in six innings, but lost for just the second time in his

last seven decisions.

The Indians used a little luck to take a 1-0 lead in the third

on Santana’s perfectly placed double.

Asdrubal Cabrera walked with one out, and with two down, he

broke for second on a 3-2 pitch that Santana sliced down the

third-base line, the ball barely skipping inside the bag and

curling toward the tarp. Cabrera never slowed and scored without a

throw as Santana scampered into second.

Brantley’s single in the eighth off Juan Cruz made it 2-0.

Brantley’s hitting streak is the majors’ longest since Atlanta’s

Dan Uggla hit in 33 in a row last season.

NOTES: Indians broadcaster Tom Hamilton is leaving Saturday

morning to see his son, Nick, play for Kent State in the College

World Series in Omaha, Neb. Hamilton, who has been the team’s

”voice” for 23 seasons, said the Indians ”just told me to go”

and he’ll stay with the Golden Flashes ”as long as they’re in

it.” Kent State plays Arkansas in its opener. … The Indians

signed OF Tyler Naquin and RHP Mitch Brown, their respective first-

and second-round picks in this month’s draft. … Hurdle gave

Indians RHP Ubaldo Jimenez a warm hug during batting practice.

Hurdle was Jimenez’s manager in Colorado from 2006-09. … McDonald

also has had poor run support. The Pirates have scored one or no

runs in seven of his starts. He’s 0-3 with a 2.06 ERA in those

games. … Pittsburgh is 3-19 in AL ballparks the last three

years.