CINCINNATI -- The Indians have been waiting for big offseason acquisition Edwin Encarnacion to let his power emerge. Encarnacion broke it out in a big way on Tuesday as he slugged two home runs in Cleveland's 8-7 win over the Reds to help split the two Ohio Cup games at Great American Ball Park.
"I think he's getting more dangerous," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Encarnacion. "He's hit a number of balls just foul, but he's barreling them up. I think you're going to see nights like this won't be the only time."
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Cleveland appeared to have a comfortable 7-3 lead until the Reds stormed back with a four-run seventh inning. A one-out RBI single by Adam Duvall, who had an RBI ground-rule double in the first inning, scored Billy Hamilton before pinch-hitter Eugenio Suarez delivered a three-run homer against reliever Bryan Shaw that made it a 7-7 game.
But Reds reliever Drew Storen and poor defense gave the lead back in the top of the eighth. Storen began with a leadoff walk before Encarnacion reached on third baseman Scooter Gennett's fielding error. Later with two outs, Encarnacion scored the go-ahead run from third base when Storen's 1-1 wild pitch in the dirt to Daniel Robertson got away.
"It was just a changeup," Storen said. "I was down and away with it. You can't give them free baserunners. A leadoff walk didn't really help me there. It's a fine line when you're coming in late in the game, especially against a good team like that. That happens."
Cincinnati held a 3-1 lead heading into the third inning before Michael Brantley hit a one-out RBI double and went to third base on the throw home. Following Carlos Santana's RBI single, Encarnacion lifted starter Amir Garrett's 1-1 pitch for the first of his two homers, this one a two-run shot to left field. Two batters later with two outs, Yan Gomes lifted a 2-1 pitch over the center-field wall for a solo homer.
Encarnacion returned in the fifth inning with a two-out solo homer to left field on a 3-2 pitch from Garrett.
"He just put good swings on the ball," Garrett said. "It was more, of the mistakes I made, he put great swings on it. He's a great hitter. He's not going to miss too many of those. For the most part, it was my fault. The pitches I made weren't in great spots. They weren't in the spots that I was supposed to hit. They capitalized on the mistakes, and he put it out of the park."
Garrett gave up seven earned runs and seven hits over five innings with one walk, two strikeouts and four homers allowed. He did notch his first big league hit in the two-run bottom of the second inning, when he faked a bunt before slashing an RBI double down the right-field line.
Indians starter Carlos Carrasco pitched 6 1/3 innings with four earned runs, five hits, four walks and six strikeouts before Cody Allen notched his 13th save. The Indians have won four of their last five games, while the Reds have dropped nine of their last 11.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Play at the plate: The Reds nearly pulled off a second comeback in the bottom of the eighth. Jose Peraza hit a leadoff single against Andrew Miller and stole second base. With two outs, Zack Cozart hit a single to right field. As Peraza was waved around third base, Robertson made an on-target, one-hop throw to the plate that got the runner as he unsuccessfully tried to slide around Gomes.
"That was a heck of a throw," Francona said. "You've got a good runner on second. We don't need to get that game tied again. It's on the road. That was a hard game to win." More >
Suarez big off the bench: It was supposed to be a night off to rest Suarez, but he was the one who got the Reds back into the game. On a 3-2 pitch from Shaw, he lifted his dramatic homer a couple of rows into the right-center-field seats and raised his arm in jubilation as he tied it up. For Suarez, it was the first pinch-hit homer of his career, and it was the second one of the season for Cincinnati. Suarez has 10 homers overall in 2017, including four hit to the opposite field.
"When you're coming from the bench and you hit a homer like that, definitely you feel really good, of course," Suarez said. "I feel great after that hit. ... We lost, but I'm happy because I do my work and I try to help my team." More >
"I just have to eliminate that one inning. I'll be fine. If I eliminate that inning, I think we win this ballgame. I just have to keep working, that's it. There's not too much to it. I have to execute my pitches better and not give them cookies over the plate." -- Garrett, who has a 6.00 ERA in eight starts but two poor outings back to back
"It was good. He's said, 'When I get hot, nobody can stop me.' That's right. We're going to be there for him, cheering for him. This is a team. He started a little bit slow, but now he's getting hot. It's good. It's good to see that." --Carrasco, on Encarnacion's two-homer game
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• Encarnacion's performance gave him a Major League-leading 15 multi-homer games from 2014-17, and his first of the season for Cleveland. Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton ranks second with 12 in that span. Encarnacion is also the first player to have a multi-homer game with three different teams (Reds, Blue Jays and Indians) at Great American Ball Park.
• With his home run in the first inning, Francisco Lindor joined Woodie Held (11 in 1960) and Jhonny Peralta (10 in 2007) as the only Indians shortstops with 10 or more homers within the team's first 44 games of a season.
Indians: Right-hander Trevor Bauer (4-4, 6.65 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound on Wednesday, when the Indians host the Reds in a 6:10 p.m. ET clash at Progressive Field. Bauer is 7-3 with a 2.74 ERA in his career in Interleague Play.
Reds: It will be up to Lisalverto Bonilla to help get the Reds on track when he starts on Wednesday. Bonilla gave up six runs and eight hits over 5 1/3 innings in his last start on Friday vs. the Rockies.
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