Tribe's bats don't support Lowe's quality start

Tribe's bats don't support Lowe's quality start

Tribe's bats don't support Lowe's quality start
TORONTO -- Just like in Saturday's slugfest, it was one big inning by the Blue Jays that cost the Indians on Sunday.

The fact that the Tribe's bats couldn't chip in didn't make things any easier, either.

Derek Lowe kept his team in the game, but Cleveland's offense didn't come through as the Indians dropped the rubber match of a three-game set with the Blue Jays, losing 3-0 at Rogers Centre on Sunday.

"We could have had a better approach today and helped Derek out," Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis said. "I thought he had that one bad inning, but for the rest of the day he battled and pitched well enough to win the game."

The one rough inning Lowe had came in the third after he retired the first six batters of the game.

Lowe walked Kelly Johnson to start the frame, the first Blue Jays hitter to reach base against him, then, after striking out Ben Francisco, allowed his first hit of the game -- a single to J.P. Arencibia that plated Johnson and gave the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead.

After recording the second out of the inning, Lowe allowed four straight batters to reach base, the first of which, Colby Rasmus, put Toronto ahead, 2-0, with an RBI single to center field.

Following Rasmus' hit, Lowe allowed a single to Jose Bautista, walked Edwin Encarnacion and then walked Adam Lind with the bases loaded to force in another run.

Before Lowe could escape the inning, the Blue Jays scored three runs on three hits and three walks.

"Other than those walks -- that kind of hurt him in the third inning -- he pitched well," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He had a good sinker with depth on it, they didn't hit him hard at all."

Lowe, who fell to 8-7 on the season, settled down after that, facing the minimum number of hitters from the fourth through the sixth inning, but didn't come back out for the seventh after throwing 98 pitches.

The right-hander said he was forced to make a number of mechanical adjustments and changes on the fly from the fourth inning on. Lowe felt the ball wasn't coming out of his hand well, and he turned to his teammates for advice to try to get back on track, which he was able to do.

"That is part of trying to compete -- I imagine hitters do the same thing," said Lowe, who allowed three runs on three hits while walking four and matching a season high with five strikeouts. "Change the way you are holding a certain pitch, turn slightly different on the mound. It's fun pitching like that, I have done it my whole career.

"This isn't the first time, and it won't be the last. You just have to try to get them out and try to figure it out for the next start."

Although Lowe kept his team in the game, the road hasn't been a kind place for him. Lowe's ERA stands at 5.83 on the season away from Progressive Field, while he has a home ERA of 2.86.

Lowe, who leads the Majors with a 2.99 ground ball-to-fly ball ratio, failed to record double-digit groundouts for just the fourth time this season.

"He pitched well, there is nothing to complain about," Acta said. "He gave us six solid innings, we just couldn't do anything offensively."

Cleveland's bats were stifled by Blue Jays starter Carlos Villanueva, who held the Indians scoreless over his six innings of work.

The Indians' best chance to get to him came in the sixth inning after he issued back-to-back, two-out walks, but Villanueva struck out Casey Kotchman -- the last batter he faced -- to end the threat.

"He reads swings very well and he is extremely intelligent," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said about Villanueva. "This is someone that prepares not only physically, but mentally, with the game plan prior to depending on the opposition, but he has had the ability repeatedly to make key pitches in those type of moments and that was the case on a number of occasions today."

Villanueva allowed no runs on three hits, walked five, and struck out a career-high eight batters to improve to 4-0.

"You have to stay patient and I don't think we did," Kipnis said. "We weren't patient enough today."

Michael Brantley went 2-for-3 with two doubles to extend his hitting streak to 13 games.

The Indians begin a four-game series at Tampa Bay on Monday, meaning they will play seven straight games on artificial turf by the time they conclude their seven-game road trip.

Chris Toman is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.