By STEVE HERRICK, Associated Press
CLEVELAND (AP) — Corey Kluber is looking like a Cy Young Award winner again.
Cleveland’s ace scattered seven hits in seven strong innings and moved into a tie for the American League lead with his ninth win, and the Indians beat the Milwaukee Brewers 3-2 on Tuesday night.
“He’s such a pro,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “I’m sure he’s fun to catch because he’s in such command of what he’s doing.”
Kluber (9-2) gave up a run, struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter for the fifth straight start, a stretch of 35 1/3 innings. The right-hander is tied with New York’s Luis Severino for the league lead in wins.
Kluber has a simple explanation for his ability to avoid walking hitters.
“My goal is to go out there and pound the strike zone,” he said. “At times it helps me get some quick at-bats. Regardless of whether a team is aggressive or not my approach is to put the pressure on them and make them put the ball in play.”
Lorenzo Cain’s third-inning single scored Milwaukee’s only run off Kluber, who was pulled after throwing 112 pitches.
“It’s both sides of the plate when you go against him because he commands his fastball and curveball to both sides,” Brewers third baseman Travis Shaw said. “A lot of guys, you can kind of ignore one of them to some degree, but not with Kluber.”
Kluber won the AL Cy Young award in 2014 and again last season. He went 4-1 with a 1.83 ERA in May with the only loss coming to the Brewers on May 8 when he allowed two home runs, including one hit by pitcher Brent Suter that carried 433 feet.
Jose Ramirez hit his 19th home run, a solo shot in the third. Lonnie Chisenhall, in his first at-bat in two months, drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single in the second.
Cody Allen gave up a leadoff homer to Shaw in the ninth, but retired the next three hitters for his 10th save.
Junior Guerra (3-4) allowed three runs in six innings for the Brewers, who have lost two straight for the first time since April 26-29 when they lost four in a row.
The annoying midges from Lake Erie descended on the ballpark causing fielders to wave their gloves in front of their faces, although play continued without interruption. The bugs usually make their first appearance of the season in early June.
Cleveland loaded the bases in the second with one out on a walk and two singles. Chisenhall, activated from the 10-day disabled list before the game, was out since April 7 because of a strained right calf.
Chisenhall was glad to contribute in his return, but admitted dealing with the bugs was a challenge.
“I swallowed a few of them so I’m going to skip dinner,” he said with a laugh.
The Indians won six straight before losing the final three games of a weekend series in Minnesota.
SUPPORT THE HOME TEAM
Indians players wore “Whatever It Takes” T-shirts during batting practice, the slogan the Cleveland Cavaliers have used during this season’s playoffs. Francona and several players plan to attend Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday night when the Cavaliers play Golden State at Quicken Loans Arena.
Shaw, who was born in Ohio and attended Kent State, wore a LeBron James jersey in the Milwaukee clubhouse before the game.
Batting practice also had a football touch as former Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas, a Wisconsin native, took some swings in the batting cage. Thomas, who retired following last season, hit a few pitches into the outfield.
NOT EXACTLY A SLUMP
The Brewers have lost three of four on their current road trip, but still have the best record in the NL.
“We pitched well enough to keep us in the game,” manager Craig Counsell said. “Junior did a nice job after leaving a couple of balls over the plate in the second inning. He’s showing nice progress.”
Brewers: 1B Eric Thames (torn left thumb ligament) will join Triple-A Colorado Springs on Wednesday for a minor league rehab assignment. He has been on the disabled list since April 25.
Indians: LHP Andrew Miller (inflammation in right knee) will throw off the mound Wednesday. He’s been on the DL since May 26. It hasn’t been determined if Miller will go on a minor league rehab assignment before being activated.
Brewers RHP Chase Anderson (4-4, 4.85 ERA) takes on Indians RHP Carlos Carrasco (6-4, 4.50 ERA) in the two-game series finale. Carrasco earned a complete game victory at Milwaukee on May 9, striking out 14.