CINCINNATI (AP) — If Shane Bieber felt a bit off at the start, it sure didn’t show.
Bieber kept up his record strikeout run, fanning 13 and pitching the Cleveland Indians past the Cincinnati Reds 6-3 on Sunday.
Bieber (2-1) became the first pitcher in big league history to begin the season with four straight starts with at least 10 strikeouts.
The AL Cy Young Award winner has 48 strikeouts this year, matching Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan for the most through the first four starts of a season. Bieber has fanned at least eight in a 16 straight starts, one short of Randy Johnson’s major league mark.
“I felt a little slow, a little sluggish at the beginning of the game but was able to get through it and kind of get on a roll there at the end,” Bieber said.
Bieber struck out the side in the seventh. He wrapped up his outing by fanning three more in the eighth around a solo home run by former teammate Tyler Naquin.
After being routed on Friday night and then losing in the 10th inning Saturday when an error with two outs in the ninth allowed the Reds to extend the game, Cleveland manager Terry Francona was happy to be able to give the ball to Bieber on Sunday.
“That’s why you call guys aces. And he certainly has lived up to that,” Francona said. “He’s really accountable for what he needs to do. It’s nice, you got a tough night like you had last night, and you see him running out to the bullpen. That makes you feel a little better.”
Bieber allowed three runs and six hits with two walks.
“He’s the complete package as a pitcher,” Reds manager David Bell said. “He has it all. He deserves all the credit today. We got a few runs off him but not enough.”
Emmanuel Clase struck out the side in the ninth, again hitting 100 mph with his heater.
The Indians hit three home runs, all with two outs, to salvage a win in the all-Ohio series.
Roberto Pérez hit a three-run homer off Wade Miley (2-1) over the center field wall with two on in the fourth inning for a 4-0 lead.
José Ramírez launched a solo drive into the upper deck in the first. Jordan Luplow had a two-run homer in the seventh.
Wade Miley (2-1) took the loss for the Reds, lasting five innings and striking out five.
“We had some good at bats against (Bieber), but he got out of trouble by making really good pitches,” Reds left fielder Jesse Winker said. “My last at-bat against him (in the seventh inning), he made some unbelievable pitches. He’s a Cy Young winner for sure.”
Joey Votto had three hits, including a two-run double in the Reds fifth. Votto was 7 for 11 in the weekend series, hitting a homer on Friday night and starting a triple play in the Reds’ come-from-behind win on Saturday. He raised his batting average to .267.
Reds 3B Mike Moustakas missed his third straight game with a non-COVID illness. Kyle Farmer started in his place. OF Shogo Akiyama (hamstring) is back with the team, but it not expected to play until at least May.
Indians: After an off day, open a nine-game homestand Tuesday with a pair against the White Sox. The teams split a four-game series last week in Chicago. Cleveland sends RHP Zach Plesac against LHP Carlos Rodón, who threw a no-hitter against them in an 8-0 White Sox win Wednesday.
Reds: After an off day, RHP Luis Castillo (1-1) will be on the mound Tuesday night to open a three-game home series with Arizona. RHP Zac Gallen (0-0) starts for the Diamondbacks, who took two out of three from the Reds in a series earlier this month in Phoenix. Castillo struck out seven in a no-decision on Tuesday. Coming off the disabled list, Gallen struck out eight over four innings in Tuesday’s loss to the A’s.
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