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Dodgers crack the code on Miller again

June 14, 2017

CLEVELAND -- In a pitchers' duel between Dodgers starter Brandon McCarthy and Indians ace Corey Kluber, Enrique Hernandez's pinch-hit solo homer in the eighth off Indians reliever Andrew Miller proved to be the difference as the Dodgers topped the Indians, 6-4, on Wednesday at Progressive Field for their sixth straight

CLEVELAND -- In a pitchers' duel between Dodgers starter Brandon McCarthy and Indians ace Corey Kluber, Enrique Hernandez's pinch-hit solo homer in the eighth off Indians reliever Andrew Miller proved to be the difference as the Dodgers topped the Indians, 6-4, on Wednesday at Progressive Field for their sixth straight win.
Hernandez's home run off Miller marked the second consecutive game that the Indians lefty had allowed a home run. Miller gave up the go-ahead home run to Cody Bellinger in Tuesday's Dodgers victory, the first homer he had allowed all year. After the home run, Los Angeles went on to score three more runs in the eighth following a crucial mental mistake by Indians second baseman Erik Gonzalez.
"Kiké's had some really good at-bats lately," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "His work and the preparation, and for that to get rewarded and pick us up with a huge hit tonight was great. Miller's obviously one of the best in baseball, and to see what we did against him last night, for him to come back out there tonight, Kiké put a good swing on a pretty good pitch. I tip my hat to him."
Cut4: Grandal hops across zone, still frames strike
Indians second baseman Jose Ramirez broke out of an 0-for-13 slump and tied the game at 2 with a solo home run off reliever Josh Fields in the seventh -- Ramirez's ninth of the season. Michael Brantley finished with two RBIs -- a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning and an RBI double in the eighth -- and Edwin Encarnacion added an RBI single.

Despite the game starting 50 minutes late due to a rain delay, neither starter let the wait hold them back. McCarthy held the Indians to one run on three hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings in a no-decision. Although he didn't strike anyone out, he recorded seven groundouts and five flyouts.
"It was something else," McCarthy said. "I couldn't strike anybody out. I couldn't command my pitches. I couldn't get them to move the way I wanted them to. ... It felt like there were 10 pitches that I actually executed. I was just like, 'Did a family member die and look over me? Why am I getting so lucky?' I just couldn't really execute completely, and they just kept hitting it at people, which is good."
Kluber went seven strong innings and tied a season high with 10 strikeouts -- his 27th career double-digit-strikeout performance. He allowed two runs on four hits and one walk en route to a no-decision.

"Good," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Kluber's outing. "They kind of scratched those two runs. One's on a swinging bunt and the other one's a first and third that we didn't execute very well. Boy, then he kind of beared down. We had one walk, one hit batsman and 10 strikeouts. He was good. Gave us a chance."
Dodgers pull off double-steal: After Kluber walked Yasmani Grandal and gave up a double to Chris Taylor in the second, the Dodgers scored the first run of the ballgame thanks to a two-out infield single by Joc Pederson. With runners at the corners and Yasiel Puig at the plate, the Dodgers sent Pederson to steal, resulting in Indians catcher Yan Gomes throwing to second. When Gomes made the throw, Taylor broke for home from third. Gonzalez cut off Gomes' throw and threw back home, but Taylor slid in safely to beat the throw.
"[Kluber's] tough," Roberts said. "For us, where we were at, I thought it was worth a chance to try to steal a run. ... I thought that we had a chance to potentially get a guy on second and third with [Chase Utley] up and two outs. But I just felt that after getting one, to push another across could be the difference in the game."

Escape artist: McCarthy was cruising until he reached the sixth inning and gave up back-to-back singles to Bradley Zimmer and Francisco Lindor. With runners on the corners, Roberts opted for the lefty-on-lefty matchup to get out of the jam and removed McCarthy after 89 pitches in favor of Grant Dayton. He did allow a sacrifice fly to Brantley, but Dayton then got Carlos Santana to ground out to end the threat and preserve a one-run lead.

The Dodgers challenged a third-inning call that Zimmer was safe at first on a throw from McCarthy. The crew overturned the call, ruling that Bellinger picked the ball before Zimmer touched the bag, which gave the Dodgers their 15th successful challenge in 19 attempts this season.

When Grandal grounded into what appeared to be an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play in the top of the eighth with the bases loaded, the Dodgers opted to use their second challenge of the night. They challenged the call at second, Gonzalez never touched the bag to retire Bellinger before throwing Grandal out at first. After a review, the call was overturned. Bellinger was ruled safe at second, allowing Corey Seager to score. The Dodgers went on to score two more runs on a single from Taylor.
"It's obviously a huge play," Francona said. "In the Minor Leagues, they don't have replay. So I think guys can get a little bit -- I don't want to say lackadaisical, that's not the right word -- but maybe careless in their footwork. I was surprised the umpire actually called him out to begin with. Even when they went to replay, it was pretty obvious that he was off there pretty good."

With his fifth-inning strikeout of Puig, Kluber became the fastest Indians pitcher to reach 1,000 strikeouts (148 games). The previous Indians record was held by Hall of Famer Bob Feller, who reached 1,000 strikeouts in 167 games. Kluber is the 11th pitcher in Cleveland history to strike out 1,000 in an Indians uniform.
"It is a cool achievement," Kluber said. "To be mentioned with Bob Feller is very humbling. I think it is probably something I'll come to appreciate more as time goes on."

In addition, Kluber is only the seventh pitcher in MLB history to reach 1,000 strikeouts by their 150th career appearance. He joins Kerry Wood (134 games), Timothy Lincecum (136 games), Roger Clemens (143 games), Stephen Strasburg (144 games), Dwight Gooden (145 games) and Hideo Nomo (147 games) as the only pitchers to do so.

"I don't know about shocking. I think he's human. I think he has been so good, like incredibly good. … He'll be fine. He threw a fastball that was probably a ball off the plate. A really good hitter against left-hand pitching got the barrel to it and it carried out." -- Francona, on Miller giving up another home run
Dodgers: Left-hander Rich Hill will take the mound against his former team as the Indians and Dodgers wrap up their three-game series at 9:10 a.m. PT at Progressive Field. Hill has yet to pitch into the sixth inning in any of his seven starts this season, but he's given up more than two earned runs in a start just once.
Indians:Josh Tomlin will take the mound in Thursday's series finale against the Dodgers at 12:10 p.m. ET at Progressive Field. The right-hander will look to bounce back after a rough outing against the White Sox on Saturday, in which he allowed four runs (three earned) on nine hits in 2 2/3 innings.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

William Kosileski is a reporter for based in Cleveland and covered the Indians on Wednesday.

Ben Weinrib is a reporter for based in Cleveland and covered the Dodgers on Wednesday.