CINCINNATI -- For the first time in his brief career, Reds right fielder Scott Schebler has slugged a home run in three straight games. Schebler's homer to lead off the bottom of the second inning helped Cincinnati to a 5-1 victory over Cleveland in Monday's Ohio Cup series opener.
The Reds already held a 1-0 lead thanks to Adam Duvall's two-out RBI single off Indians starter Josh Tomlin in the first inning. Schebler lifted the first pitch that Tomlin offered in the second inning -- an 85-mph cut fastball -- into the right-field seats for the homer. That had him tied for second in the National League with 13 homers for the season.
"I happened to put a good swing on a pitch down the middle," said Schebler, who is 6-for-13 in his last four games. "[Tomlin] probably wasn't trying to throw it there, but you have to take advantage of the mistakes when they make them."
Reds starter Scott Feldman struck out each of his first five batters and nine of his first 10 to keep Cleveland quiet much of his night. The Indians picked up a run when Jason Kipnis hit a 2-2 Feldman pitch for a leadoff homer in the top of the sixth.
Feldman finished with one earned run, four hits, two walks and nine strikeouts over six innings. Tomlin was out after 6 1/3 innings, charged with five runs (four earned), nine hits, no walks and four strikeouts.
"[Feldman] lived at the bottom of the zone," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We didn't do a lot. We had a couple pretty good chances, and we didn't cash in. I just thought off of the fastball, there was some deception, and there's good movement on his fastball."
Cincinnati created some space with a three-run bottom of the seventh that included an RBI squeeze bunt by pinch-hitter Arismendy Alcantara against Tomlin and Zack Cozart's two-out, two-run single against Dan Otero for a four-run lead.
The Ohio Cup rivalry hadn't been much of one recently. Cleveland entered having won nine of 10 against Cincinnati since the start of 2015, including wins in all four games in '16. There is one more game at Great American Ball Park before the Interleague matchup moves along the shores of Lake Erie for two more games beginning Wednesday.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Big opportunity missed by Cleveland: Feldman appeared to hit a wall in the sixth, with the Kipnis homer followed by Francisco Lindor's double and a four-pitch walk to Michael Brantley that put the potential go-ahead run on base. After Carlos Santana bounced into a double play, Edwin Encarnacion nearly picked up the slack when he demolished a long foul ball to left field that narrowly missed being a homer. Encarnacion was ultimately caught looking at a sinker for strike three and struck out for the third time. The Indians wound up 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
"Late, at the end, it was far, and then I saw the ball move to the left. It's unfortunate," Encarnacion said of his near home run. "You want to get results. The only thing I can do about it is continue to keep working hard and continue to try to do the best I can do, and continue to work and find a way." More >
You're squeezable: Back-to-back one-out singles by Jose Peraza and Tucker Barnhart against Tomlin in the seventh put runners on the corners. Instead of going with a power guy, Reds manager Bryan Price summoned Alcantara and put on the safety squeeze play. Alcantara perfectly bunted to the right side between the mound and first base, and Tomlin's rushed throw went into right field for an error. Peraza didn't break for the plate until the throw, which put two men into scoring position as the lead stretched to two runs.
"In that situation you don't want to sell out," Price said. "They might sniff something out and pitch out or just throw a pitch that we can't get down. A safety squeeze in that situation doesn't force the runner to break early or the hitter to have to bunt at the pitch. It ended up working in our favor."
"I could have sworn that thing was fair. Scott said the same thing. He thought it was going to hit the scoreboard. It was absolutely crushed. Luckily, it went foul. He threw probably the best pitch of the night on the [last] pitch, a backdoor sinker. After that hit-and-run, Edwin said, 'That was the best pitch he threw all night. It was nasty.' I said it came at a great time." -- Barnhart, on Encarnacion's long foul ball in the sixth
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Raisel Iglesias finished the game for the Reds in a non-save situation and pitched a scoreless ninth, with a leadoff double and two strikeouts. Iglesias has not allowed a run in his last 11 appearances and 12 1/3 innings pitched, tying the longest scoreless streak of his career. His last run allowed came on April 23, vs. the Cubs. He has a 0.76 ERA in 18 appearances this season.
SANTANA'S EVENTFUL NIGHT
With no designated hitter available in Cincinnati, Francona started Santana -- typically the first baseman -- in right field. In the second inning, the move nearly backfired on a foul popup off the bat of Peraza. While trying to chase down the fly ball, Santana crashed hard into the side wall, and remained on the ground in pain for several moments after jarring his back. After a visit with Francona and head athletic trainer James Quinlan, Santana stayed in the game.
"It looked violent," Francona said. "So I was just glad when they said it wasn't his head or his knee. By the time I got out there, you could tell he was OK. He was just trying to catch his breath."
That gave Santana a chance to show off his athleticism in the sixth, which he ended with a diving catch to rob Eugenio Suarez of a hit. Santana then threw to shortstop Lindor, who relayed it to Kipnis at second for a 9-6-4 double play. According to Statcast™, the catch probability on the play was 24 percent, making it Cleveland's first five-star catch of the season.
WHAT'S NEXT Indians:Carlos Carrasco (4-2, 2.60 ERA) got through his week with no issues after experiencing tightness in his left pectoral muscle in his previous outing, on May 15. The big righty is scheduled to return to the mound for a start against the Reds on Tuesday in a 7:10 p.m. ET Interleague tilt at Great American Ball Park.
Reds: Coming off a poor start in his return from Triple-A Louisville, rookie Amir Garrett will seek better fortunes when he faces Cleveland on Tuesday. Garrett, who is 3-3 with a 5.18 ERA, gave up six earned runs, five hits and four walks on Thursday in a 9-5 loss to the Cubs.