CINCINNATI -- Indians ace Corey Kluber has been in need of more run support for most of this season. In a 9-4 victory over the Reds on Saturday night, Cleveland's runs came in bunches early, helping the reigning American League Cy Young winner cruise to a win.
Michael Brantley launched a three-run homer in the first and Brandon Moss belted a two-run shot in the third, helping power the Indians to a five-run lead after three innings. Catcher Yan Gomes later crushed a three-run homer in the seventh. That was more than sufficient for Kluber, who held the Reds to three runs on seven hits in 7 2/3 innings, ending with five strikeouts and one walk.
"I'd say it was kind of a sloppy outing to some extent," Kluber said. "I wasn't locating pitches great, but when you have that cushion, you can kind of get away with some stuff, because you don't have to worry about being quite as fine. You can just go out there and attack guys."
Cincinnati starter Anthony DeSclafani, who surrendered six runs on eight hits in five innings of work, took the loss. Kluber limited the Reds to just one first-inning run during his time on the hill, courtesy of a sacrifice fly from Jay Bruce. Two more runs were tacked on Kluber's line after his exit when Bruce drilled a three-run homer off closer Cody Allen.
"I just wasn't executing any pitches," DeSclafani said. "It wasn't the start I was hoping to have, especially coming out of the All-Star break and opening the second half. I wasn't good tonight, didn't put guys away when I had to. To Moss, I had him down 0-2, and I need to make a better pitch. I just didn't give my team a chance to win, that falls on me. I have to do a better job."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Brantley's blast: Following back-to-back singles by Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor in the first inning, Brantley continued his strong start to the second half. The Tribe's left fielder ripped an 0-1 offering from DeSclafani into the right-center field seats for a three-run shot -- Brantley's sixth homer of the year. He had a pair of doubles on Friday night.
"It was really nice," Gomes said. "The way those first three guys started, that's exactly how we want them to do it every time." More >
Bruce delivers: After knocking in one run with a sacrifice fly in the first inning, Bruce came through again in the eighth with a two-out, three-run homer. Bruce's home run traveled an estimated 379 feet from home plate, according to Statcast™, and tightened the game to 9-4. It was his 14th home run of the season and 196th of his career.
"I actually missed a few pitches before that," Bruce said, "but you don't want to sell out fastball too much there and just finally hit one well enough to get out." More >
Moss snaps skid: The second of Cleveland's three three-run outbursts came in the third inning, when Carlos Santana (RBI double) and Moss (two-run homer) each came through for the Tribe. Moss' shot over the right-field wall -- his 15th home run of the season -- ended an 0-for-21 slump at the plate.
"It feels good just to be on base," Moss said. "It'd been a really bad stretch there before the All-Star break, and you start hitting the panic button, wanting to try to find it, trying to force things. … I'm starting to feel al little bit better. I thought everybody swung the bat great today. We were aggressive. We swung the bats with authority."
Gomes' second-decker: Kluber looked to have more than enough support, but Gomes helped put the game away with a towering shot off reliever Nate Adcock. Kipnis and Santana both reached with singles, and Gomes brought them home with a blast, estimated by Statcast™ to land 436 feet away from the plate, to the second deck beyond the left-field wall. It was the catcher's fourth homer of the year.
"It was a 2-0 count, so I was just trying to really get a good pitch to drive," Gomes said. "It feels good to finally be able to drive a pitch."
"Just to let Kluber have a game where he had a little bit of a lead, that was really good. It's a nice way to play a game. It's a formula for winning. They have a lot of good hitters and they made Kluber work. It seemed like every time he got himself into a potential bind, he made some really good pitches" -- Indians manager Terry Francona
"We need everybody to contribute, whether it's all our position players hitting or all our pitchers pitching. We've got some ground to make up, so we kind of all need to start clicking" -- Kluber
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Kluber entered Saturday's start with the lowest run support average (2.30) in the Majors among qualified starters. The nine runs marked his season-high for support. The Indians had not scored at least nine in a game started by Kluber since May 24 of last season (also nine runs).
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: The Indians will send right-hander Carlos Carrasco (10-7, 4.07 ERA) to the mound for the finale of this three-game Interleague road series against the Reds. The big righty beat Cincinnati behind six strong innings on May 22 in Cleveland. Carrasco has gone 6-3 with a 3.46 ERA and 71 strikeouts in his past 10 starts for the Tribe.
Reds: Ace starting pitcher Johnny Cueto (6-6, 2.73 ERA) will take the mound in potentially his final start with the Reds to wrap up a three-game series against the Indians. Cueto has been linked to a number of trade rumors and is expected by many to be moved before the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31. First pitch is at 1:10 p.m. ET.
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.