Leake, Reds defeat Tribe in rainy opener

Leake, Reds defeat Tribe in rainy opener

CINCINNATI -- Mike Leake turned in six solid innings and drove in three runs, helping lead the Reds to a 6-1 Interleague victory over the Indians in the annual battle for the Ohio Cup. Marlon Byrd and Joey Votto helped back Leake's big night with a home run apiece.

Leake (7-5) picked up the win by limiting Cleveland to one run -- courtesy of a groundout by Carlos Santana -- on four hits, ending with a pair of strikeouts to go with two walks. The pitcher also connected for a two-run double with the bases loaded in the third shortly before the storm pounded Great American Ball Park with showers.

"He did a nice job," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "This team gave him some trouble in Cleveland in May, and he came back and just made better pitches. [He] had a good tempo going with [catcher Tucker Barnhart], and good thing. They put the ball in play and so it gave him a chance to get some quicker outs."

In a game interrupted for 1 hour and 5 minutes by rain in the third inning, Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer (8-6) allowed a solo shot to Byrd (his 15th blast of the season) in the second and another solo homer to Votto (No. 16) in the fourth. Bauer was charged with five runs on seven hits in his four-inning effort, which included a rain delay lasting one hour and five minutes in the bottom of the third.

"I think not being in a competitive situation for nine days coming back from the All-Star break was a little bit tough," Bauer said. "It was a different feeling than I've had on the mound for the entire year. It wasn't the same, that competitiveness. I couldn't really find a way to kick that in. I missed location on quite a few pitches."

Late arrival: With one out and runners on the corners in the second, Leake squared around for a bunt. The tapper was gloved by charging first baseman Santana, who quickly relayed the ball to catcher Yan Gomes. Eugenio Suarez sprinted hard from third base on the play, narrowly edging Santana's throw for a run that gave the Reds a 2-0 lead.

Leake's squeeze bunt

"Kind of a safety-squeeze type of a deal right there, and because of his placement, it gave Suarez a chance to score on that, so that was a big run," Price said.

Leake over the DH: After laying down a perfect suicide-squeeze bunt in the second inning to score Suarez from third, Leake doubled to the right-field wall with the bases loaded in the third to score two more runs. Leake's three RBIs in the game were a new career high and gave the Reds an early 4-0 lead.

"The double was out of the zone," Bauer said. "He's an athlete. He hit in college. He's very respectable with the bat. I just missed location. But, at the end of the day, that ball is six inches below the zone at 95 mph, and he hit it. It's one of those days where everything goes against you." More >

Byrd misses out on cycle: With the cycle at stake, Byrd (4-for-4) singled up the middle in the seventh inning in his final at-bat, falling just short of a cycle. Byrd started the game off with a solo home run in the second inning before also adding a single in the third and a double in the fifth. The last Reds player to hit for the cycle was Eric Davis, who did so on June 2, 1989.

Byrd's four-hit game

"It was a good start," Byrd said. "Took some good swings today. After the first half, I wanted to try to continue the momentum that I had at the plate." More >

Hamilton shows speed: Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton showed off his speed in the eighth inning to nearly single-handedly produce a run. After reaching on an infield hit, Hamilton snagged his 45th stolen base of the year and advanced to third on a throwing error by Gomes. Brandon Phillips then hit a hard grounder to third baseman Giovanny Urshela, who looked Hamilton back toward the bag. As soon as Urshela threw to first base, Hamilton sprinted home and slid in to beat out the throw from Santana.

Hamilton's smart baserunning

"Once he looked him back and straightened up, [Hamilton] was going," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "[It's] kind of nitpicking. He got it and looked him back. That's what Hamilton can do. If he fakes the throw and doesn't go, we've got trouble. [Urshela] did a pretty good job, actually."

"Because I think we have hitters that have shown they can do it. … Now, we have to go do it" -- Francona, on why he feels the offense can turn things around in the second half More >

With Friday's win for the Reds, the home team has won 17 of the last 18 games in this series dating back to the start of 2012. That includes a three-game series sweep by the Indians over the Reds earlier this season at Progressive Field.

Indians: Right-hander Corey Kluber (4-10, 3.38 ERA) will take the mound for the Tribe in Saturday's 7:10 p.m. ET Interleague tilt against the Reds at Great American Ball Park. Kluber has posted a 2.54 ERA with 108 strikeouts against 17 walks in 88 2/3 innings over his past 12 starts, but he only has a 4-5 record in that span due to low run support.

Reds: Rookie right-hander Anthony DeSclafani (5-6, 3.65 ERA) will return after being scratched from his last start because of a gluteal strain. He was held out from making the start as a precaution and to give him extra time to rest before the All-Star break. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. ET.

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Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. Robert Bondy is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.