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Carrasco drops duel with Astros' McCullers

Special to MLB.com

HOUSTON -- Carlos Carrasco came into Sunday night's game having never allowed a run at Minute Maid Park in 15 1/3 innings over two starts. The Astros finally got to the Indians right-hander, as Brian McCann's two-run homer in the seventh inning was the decisive blow in a 3-1 loss in the rubber match of the three-game series.

The Indians managed only one hit off Houston starter Lance McCullers Jr. in his seven innings and collected only three hits for the game, with Michael Brantley's leadoff double in the ninth off Chris Devenski leading to their lone run and extending his hitting streak to 10 games.

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HOUSTON -- Carlos Carrasco came into Sunday night's game having never allowed a run at Minute Maid Park in 15 1/3 innings over two starts. The Astros finally got to the Indians right-hander, as Brian McCann's two-run homer in the seventh inning was the decisive blow in a 3-1 loss in the rubber match of the three-game series.

The Indians managed only one hit off Houston starter Lance McCullers Jr. in his seven innings and collected only three hits for the game, with Michael Brantley's leadoff double in the ninth off Chris Devenski leading to their lone run and extending his hitting streak to 10 games.

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Six of the first nine Cleveland batters struck out against McCullers, who retired the first 15 he faced. Jason Kipnis, who was hitting .173, broke up the perfect game leading off the sixth with a line-drive single to right.

"He's good, like the rest of their staff," said Kipnis. "He was mixing speeds with his curveball, he got guys to chase and he also did a good job of pushing his changeup down in the zone and not leaving too many of them up."

Video: CLE@HOU: Kipnis singles in 6th for Indians' 1st hit

Carrasco had pitched 21 2/3 innings of scoreless ball at Minute Maid Park before McCann's fourth homer of the season. Carrasco wasn't as sharp as McCullers, but he was effective. After allowing five baserunners over the first two innings, Carrasco settled down, retiring 13 of the next 14 batters as he took a shutout into the sixth.

Carrasco pitched out of trouble in the early going, with the Astros stranding the bases loaded in the second. In the first inning, right fielder Melky Cabrera, who was called up on Sunday from Triple-A Columbus, threw out Alex Bregman at third base as he was advancing from first on a single by Jose Altuve.

"It was important I got some zeros right there," Carrasco said. "After that, I settled down and pitched a little better."

In 7 2/3 innings, Carrasco (5-3) gave up three runs on eight hits and one walk while striking out six.

"I thought he was terrific," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He left a changeup, and McCann took a really good swing. Other than that, he pitched out of a couple of jams. When we're not scoring, that makes it really hard. He was really good."

Video: CLE@HOU: Francona on struggles in loss to Astros

The Indians, who have scored a Major League-best 111 runs in May, were stymied by McCullers (6-2), who struck out eight with only two walks.

Even with the defeat, Cleveland (22-23) has won six of the past eight games against Houston (30-18). The Indians hadn't lost a series to the Astros since May 9-11, 2016, when they lost two of three in Houston. The teams meet again for a four-game series in Cleveland, starting on Thursday.

SOUND SMART
Cleveland had four switch-hitters and three lefties in its lineup on Sunday. They went a combined 1-for-19 against the right-handed McCullers.

HE SAID IT
"He's got velocity, but you can see that his breaking ball, the slider, is a really good pitch. The same pitch you saw in the World Series, and he kept throwing it tonight." -- Francona, on McCullers

UP NEXT
After an off-day on Monday, the Indians visit Chicago for a two-game set against the Cubs starting on Tuesday. Trevor Bauer will be starting on five days' rest for the 7:05 p.m. ET start. He will oppose Chicago right-hander Tyler Chatwood. Bauer, who is coming off eight innings in the Tribe's 6-0 win over the Tigers, will be making his second start this season against the Cubs, whom he beat on April 25.

Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com.

Cleveland Indians, Carlos Carrasco