CLEVELAND — The Indians didn’t do a whole lot offensively, but with Carlos Carrasco refinding his form, it was enough to get a victory Wednesday afternoon at Progressive Field.
Carrasco bounced back from consecutive poor outings and Cleveland scored all its runs in the fifth inning as the Indians completed a two-game interleague sweep of first-place Milwaukee with a 3-1 win.
It appeared Carrasco’s recent woes would continue when he allowed six hits and the Brewers’ only run in the first three innings, but after working out of a bases-loaded jam in the second, he found his groove.
Carrasco struck out the first two batters in the second inning, then allowed three straight to reach base, bringing up Lorenzo Cain, Milwaukee’s dangerous center fielder.
Cain entered the day batting .361 in his career off the right-hander.
“Earlier in the game there were a lot of hits,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “It was the (second) inning, bases loaded, and he had fallen behind (Lorenzo) Cain, fought back into the count and got him to fly out to right. That at the time seemed big and later in the game when you look back, it was big. Cain is a guy that has really given Carlos trouble. He got him out with the bases loaded. That was a huge turn in the game.
“He had to reach back for his best stuff. I think he found his best stuff and then for the rest of the game he was really good. Breaking ball, change-up … he was crisp. That was a nice bounce-back from the other day.”
Carrasco, who struck out 10 over seven innings, allowed only two hits after the third.
“Sometimes you have to be a little more aggressive,” he said. “Bases loaded after two outs, it came back to me, what was going on for the last two games. ‘It can’t happen right here.’ I just got him to fly out to right field for the third out.
“It was good, man. I think it was one of the toughest parts of the game, bases loaded. But it’s OK. I have to get outs. This is something that I can learn from here and it doesn’t happen anymore.”
With Carrasco back to his stingy self, the Indians finally broke through against right-hander Chase Anderson in the fifth.
Rajai Davis — making his first start since May 25 — was a catalyst, getting a one-out single and then stealing second.
He was the first of six straight Cleveland hitters to reach, with Michael Brantley driving in the first run of the game with a single up the middle and Jose Ramirez following with an RBI double. Yonder Alonso walked with the bases loaded to force in the final run.
“I just went out there trying to do what I do, be a threat out there and get in scoring position,” Davis said. “Obviously, it’s easier to score when you’re at second as opposed to first. I was just trying to produce and help us win. That was my main focus at the plate, just trying to get good pitches to hit and just staying with that approach.”
“Brant stayed up the middle, but we got a little long and the ball wasn’t carrying,” Francona said. “Josey hit a ball real good, hit a couple balls, just they weren’t going anywhere. But then all of a sudden we got some speed on the bases and it changed the game. That’s the hope when Raj plays, that he can influence the game, and he did.”
Davis, 37, stole two more bases to become the oldest Indians player to steal three in a game.
Ramirez’s RBI double came off Milwaukee reliever Jeremy Jeffress, who allowed his first inherited runner to score since April 27 and the first to score on a hit since April 6.
Once Carrasco departed, the Indians got effective relief work from right-hander Neil Ramirez, lefty Oliver Perez and closer Cody Allen.
Allen struck out the final batter in the eighth before striking out two of the three hitters he faced in the ninth for his second save in less than 24 hours.
“That’s not as easy as he made it look,” Francona said of Allen’s 11th save in 12 opportunities. “He works hard at it and he works hard to be ready. I’m sure he’ll be glad there’s a day off (today). Cody looks like he kind of found his breaking ball … that’s a big key for him. It just seems to relax him, and I can see why.”