"I don't want to overlook [DeSclafani's effort]," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "It's another loss, but it's a big step in the right direction for Anthony and it's important to our rotation that he's pitching consistently. Considering the way that we've been pitching lately, a game like that was a lift.
"It's unfortunate we weren't able to take advantage of it, score a few runs, and win a ballgame. It would certainly make the mood around here a lot better."
Saturday's defeat was the first where a starting pitcher wasn't involved in the losing decision during the streak. The rotation came into the day 0-6 with an 11.57 ERA (33 runs over 25 2/3 innings) over the previous six games.
DeSclafani badly needed a good game on a personal level. After three strong starts to open the season, he was 0-4 with a 6.38 ERA in his previous five outings.
"I've been waiting to have a start like that," DeSclafani said. "I've been struggling the last couple of times. I was really happy to keep my team in the game."
DeSclafani did not give up his first hit until Carlos Santana's one-out double in the fourth inning. A stretch of seven in a row retired followed. A 1-0 lead was erased in a two-out rally in the sixth after a single and a walk set up David Murphy to hit an RBI single to center field. A spectacular leaping catch by first baseman Joey Votto robbed Brandon Moss of a RBI hit and kept the game tied.
The game should not have been so close as the Reds threatened Indians ace Corey Kluber several times. But the lineup was 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
"DeSclafani did a great job," Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton said. "If we could have gotten him a couple of more runs, it would have been better. It's always good to get those pitchers enough runs to get their confidence going. He pitched a great game. It's more on the offensive side to get him a couple of more runs."
In the seventh, DeSclafani bounced back nicely and retired the side in order to finish with 109 pitches.
"I kind of felt off the last couple of starts," DeSclafani said. "My fastball has kind of been taking off to my arm side. So especially when I'm trying to go away to those lefties, it's missing off the plate. I was able to keep the ball through the zone better today. I'm kind of hoping that keeps on happening. I definitely felt better today, too."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.