CINCINNATI -- A season series was already clinched by the Indians over the Reds, but Thursday's 7-2 victory by Cleveland underscored that the Ohio Cup was firmly in its grasp for another year. A pair of two-run home runs by Carlos Santana, including one to cap a four-run fifth inning, sealed a four-game sweep this week in the home-and-home series.
The Indians, who outscored the Reds by a 43-16 margin over the past four games, have claimed the last two Ohio Cups by winning nine of the 10 games played in the in-state rivalry since 2015.
"We seem to get contributions all over the place, which I think is kind of how we have to be," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We've got to keep the line moving and play like that. We did OK, but now we'll move quickly to the next team."
Santana made it a 2-0 game in the fourth inning with his first two-run homer of the night, a shot to right field on a 1-0 pitch from Reds starter Tim Adleman. Four batters later, Adleman departed with a strained left oblique. Cleveland had one out and one run in during the fifth against reliever Caleb Cotham when Santana jumped on a first pitch for his second two-run homer to right field.
"We talk the same story every day here," said Reds manager Bryan Price after his club lost for the seventh time in the last eight games. "It's a fact, we have to pitch better if we're really going to be able to stay away from losing streaks and be able to keep our head above water. If we can't pitch, we're not going to compete very well."
Indians starter Josh Tomlin improved his record to 6-0 as he pitched 7 2/3 innings and gave up two earned runs, five hits and one walk with seven strikeouts. He also collected a pair of hits.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Cleaning up: With no designated hitter available, Santana moved out of the leadoff spot and back to the No. 4 hole. With the red-hot Francisco Lindor hitting ahead of him, Santana had multiple chances to knock in runs. Lindor reached via single before both of Santana's blasts, which gave him seven on the season.
"I feel comfortable right now and I'm working hard," Santana said. "I was trying to come back and help my team. Right now, I feel comfortable. I understand it's a long season, so I have to keep it up."
Hitting machine: Tomlin entered the evening with a 4-for-7 career showing in the batter's box, and added to that success against the Reds. He singled off Adleman in the third for Cleveland's first hit of the night and later doubled and scored off Cotham in the Tribe's four-run fifth inning.
"I hate to say it, because his head will be so big it won't be able to get through the door," Francona said, "but that's pretty impressive. That's pretty impressive. It's hard enough to get hits as a player, let alone as somebody who hasn't been hitting. That was impressive." More >
Early exit: Adleman lasted 3 1/3 innings until he bounced an 0-1 pitch to Chris Gimenez and appeared to point to his left side in discomfort. He allowed two earned runs and three hits but his departure required an already beat-up bullpen to cover 5 2/3 innings. Cotham took over and got a double play, but then allowed four runs in the fifth. More >
Votto goes deep: There was a glimmer of hope for Cincinnati in the fourth inning when Joey Votto hit Tomlin's first pitch over the center-field wall for a game-tying two-run homer. It was Votto's sixth homer of the season and No. 198 for his career, which tied him with Barry Larkin for 11th place on the club's all-time list. It's been a rough season to this point for Votto, who is batting .215, including .192 in May.
"He wasn't real sharp but he battled through some control/command issues and found a way to limit them to a run. It was a lift because it didn't force me to get [Steve] Delabar in the game or Jumbo [Diaz] or [Ross] Ohlendorf. I wasn't going to use [Tony] Cingrani, I wasn't going to use [JC] Ramirez. It did give us an opportunity to be a little more fresh tomorrow, so that was a good performance by Keyvius for sure." -- Price, on Keyvius Sampson turning in three innings of one-run baseball to somewhat preserve the already taxed bullpen
"The guys are feeding off each other. One guy gets a hit and it's, 'Oh, let me do that.' You see Santana. He went ahead and hit two bombs today. That's stepping it up. Guys are pushing each other. Oh, he did it? Now, let me do it. That's the competitive nature we have. I like that." -- Indians outfielder Rajai Davis, on the torrid offense
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Tomlin became the first Indians pitcher to have two hits in a game since June 28, 2011, when he previously achieved the feat in an Interleague game against Arizona. Prior to Thursday, the last Cleveland pitcher to have two hits, including a double, in a game was Steve Dunning on Sept. 6, 1972, against Milwaukee.
For his play in the four games against the Reds, Davis was named the 2016 Ohio Cup's Most Outstanding Player in voting by Cleveland and Cincinnati media. Davis hit .563 (9-for-16) with two homers, three doubles (two on Thursday), six walks, nine RBIs and 10 runs scored this week against the Reds.
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: Right-hander Corey Kluber (2-5, 4.30 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the Tribe on Friday, when the club opens a three-game series at Fenway Park with a 7:10 p.m. ET tilt against the Red Sox. Kluber has an 8.68 ERA in his past two outings (9 1/3 innings) after posting a 1.13 ERA in his previous three starts (24 innings).
Reds: The Interleague-flavored homestand continues when the Reds host the Mariners for a three-game series that starts at 7:10 p.m. ET on Friday. Dan Straily, who labored for five scoreless innings on Sunday at Philadelphia while leaving runners in scoring position each inning, will make the start. He's been Cincinnati's most dependable starter of late, however.