The Reds will have to wait yet another year to gain possession of the coveted Ohio Cup.
Cleveland All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor hit two solo home runs before catcher Roberto Perez capped a four-hit day with a two-run shot in the eighth inning that snapped a 2-2 tie and propelled the Indians to a 7-2 interleague win on Saturday at Great American Ball Park.
Perez’s home run, on a full-count changeup from relief pitcher Michael Lorenzen (0-2) in his second inning of work, guaranteed for the Indians a split of the four-game season series with the Reds. Splits mean the trophy stays with its current owner. The Indians have maintained possession since winning five out of six from Cincinnati in 2015.
Cleveland tacked on three runs against right-hander Matt Bowman in the ninth to clinch its fifth consecutive win, matching its longest streak of the season. The Reds were coming off three straight wins over Central Division-leading Milwaukee.
Red-hot right fielder Yasiel Puig’s two-run homer in the first inning was Cincinnati’s only scoring.
Joey Votto’s double to lead off the ninth was the 389thof his career, tying Reds Hall-of-Famer Dave Concepcion for third on the franchise’s career doubles list, but second baseman Derek Dietrich struck out for the fourth time to end the game.
After celebrating before a crowd of 36,504 in pre-game ceremonies the 100th anniversary of Ohio women receiving the right to vote, Lindor lined a DeSclafani 2-1 pitch into the right field seats for a leadoff home run and 1-0 Indians lead.
Cleveland right-hander Shane Bieber, who found out earlier Saturday that he’d been named to the AL All-Star team to replace Texas’s Mike Minor, gave up a two-out single to Eugenio Suarez in the bottom of the first before Puig lined a 1-2 pitch to the opposite field and into the right field seats for his 20thhomer of the season and ninth in his last 19 games.
Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani got help from two impressive defensive plays. Nick Senzel was drifting the wrong way on a Lindor’s one-out drive to straightaway center field and had to execute a leaping turn to his right to make a backhand catch.
In the next inning, shortstop Jose Iglesias made a diving backhand stab of Carlos Santana’s sharp one-hopper up the middle. His throw from the ground took Votto to the outfield side of the first base bag as he stretched as far as his right leg would allow. First base umpire David Rackley ruled Santana safe, but Votto immediately gestured with his gloved hand toward the home dugout, asking for a review, and the call was reversed after a 45-second replay review.
The play loomed larger after the Indians went on to load the bases with two outs before right fielder Tyler Naquin flied out to end the threat.
Puig added his own web gem in the fifth, but only after Lindor’s second homer of the game glanced off the right field foul pole and into his glove.
DeSclafani lasted six innings, allowing seven hits and two runs with two walks and six strikeouts – three of Jose Ramirez, all looking.
Bieber (8-3) retired 16 of the next 17 batters he faced after Puig’s homer before Puig reached second on a leadoff infield single and throwing error by third baseman Jose Ramirez in the seventh.
In a game that started with the thermometer at 90 degrees, Bieber logged eight innings, allowing four hits and two runs with eight strikeouts.
Scooter Gennett made his first appearance since Wednesday, when he left after four innings with tightness in his left groin. Gennett pinch-hit in the eighth for catcher Curt Casali, who went 0-for-2 to extend to a season-high 13 his streak of consecutive hitless at bats.