CLEVELAND (AP)Shane Bieber struck out 10 in five innings to remain unbeaten in 2020 and Carlos Santana had two RBIs, leading the Cleveland Indians to a 4-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday.
Bieber (7-0) only allowed one run and five singles, but the right-hander ran up his pitch count – 58 combined in the fourth and fifth innings – and needed Cleveland’s bullpen to finish things off.
Brad Hand, the Indians’ fourth reliever, worked the ninth for his 11th save in 11 tries. It was his 100th career save.
Bieber came in leading the majors strikeouts and added to his total by reaching double-digits for the sixth time this season.
Santana had an RBI double in the first off Brett Anderson (2-3) and chased the left-hander with a run-scoring single in the sixth when the Indians took a 4-1 lead.
The Indians, whose offense has been wildly inconsistent all season, improved to 20-2 when they score at least three runs.
Bieber breezed through the Brewers’ lineup the first time with relative ease. He struck out seven – including the last five in the order in a row – before giving up a two-out walk in the fourth to Christian Yelich, followed by Daniel Vogelbach’s hard single.
MIlwaukee’s hitters began figuring things out a little better the second time around against Bieber, and they closed within 2-1 in the fifth on three singles, the last a grounder up the middle that second baseman Cesar Hernandez’s stopped but couldn’t turn into an out.
Another single loaded the bases, but Bieber struck out Keston Hiura and Yelich to end the threat.
By then he was at 103 pitches and interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr. decided that was enough for the ace, who didn’t go at least six innings for the first time in nine starts.
The 25-year-old Bieber has recorded at least eight strikeouts in his first nine starts, matching Hall of Famer Bob Feller’s club mark (1946) to start a season. Randy Johnson holds the major league record with 15 straight of eight strikeouts or more to open 2000.
Jordan Luplow snapped an 0 for 13 slide with a two-out RBI single in the fourth to give Cleveland a 2-0 lead.
Santana ended his own 0 for 13 funk with his double in the first. It was his 495th career extra-base hit, tying Hall of Famer Lou Boudreau for seventh place on the team’s career list.
THIRD A CHARM
Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez made a spectacular play behind Bieber in the first.
Hiura hit a shot down the third-base line that Ramirez snagged with a backhander before whipping an off-balance throw across the diamond for the out.
The stunning play even made Brewers third base coach Ed Sedar applaud, which Ramirez acknowledged with a wide smile.
When Brewers closer Josh Hader allowed his first hit Saturday night, it ended his major league record of 12 straight hitless appearances to start the season. Hader held opponents without a hit for 35 at-bats, tying the record for the most to open a season with Hal Newhouser (1942) and Brad Clontz (1998).
Brewers: Off on Labor Day, Milwaukee opens a two-game series in Detroit on Tuesday with RHP Adrian Houser (1-3) facing Tigers RHP Spencer Turnbull (3-2).
Indians: RHP Zach Plesac, who returned to the team last week after being demoted for breaking COVID-19 protocols, starts the opener of a four-game series against Kansas City with RHP Brad Keller (3-1, 1.93) going for the Royals.
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