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Three homers back Bauer as Tribe tops Cubs

Guyer, Lindor, Encarnacion go deep to break up pitchers' duel
MLB.com @MLBastian

CLEVELAND -- Brandon Guyer raised a finger to the sky as he rounded first, celebrating the home run he just sent ricocheting off the pole down the left-field line. His fifth-inning shot on Wednesday night stirred the Indians' offense, which is trying to wake from its April slumber.

Not long after that, both Francisco Lindor and Edwin Encarnacion followed suit, providing just enough power to pick up a 4-1 victory over the Cubs at Progressive Field. Pitching is what has carried Cleveland to the top of the American League Central to date, and the trio of Tribe homers in this one backed another strong outing from Trevor Bauer.

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CLEVELAND -- Brandon Guyer raised a finger to the sky as he rounded first, celebrating the home run he just sent ricocheting off the pole down the left-field line. His fifth-inning shot on Wednesday night stirred the Indians' offense, which is trying to wake from its April slumber.

Not long after that, both Francisco Lindor and Edwin Encarnacion followed suit, providing just enough power to pick up a 4-1 victory over the Cubs at Progressive Field. Pitching is what has carried Cleveland to the top of the American League Central to date, and the trio of Tribe homers in this one backed another strong outing from Trevor Bauer.

View Full Game Coverage

"It was good getting on the board and giving Bauer some runs," Lindor said. "We haven't been able to do that in the last outings for him. Giving him the lead is always good. To be honest, all we need is two or three guys.

"It's fun to see nine guys getting multiple hits. It's always good, because it calms you down, gives you a little relief. The most important part is two or three guys scoring a couple of runs and giving the pitching staff the lead. That's enough."

Given how Cleveland has been pitching, that has indeed been enough lately.

Heading into Wednesday's win, the Indians' rotation had a 2.85 ERA on the season. Bauer continued that trend by limiting the Cubs to one run over 6 2/3 innings with a season-high eight strikeouts, trimming his season ERA to 2.41 in the process.

Bauer escaped damage at a handful of turns, but finally flinched in the fifth. Back-to-back walks with one out came back to bite the starter via an RBI single from Anthony Rizzo.

Video: CHC@CLE: Bauer strikes out eight over 6 2/3 innings

"Trevor competed his rear end off. He battled," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I thought he was really good. It looked like he was frustrated at times, but I thought he was really good."

The Cubs' 1-0 lead was short-lived, however. Cleveland answered with three home runs in a span of six batters off Cubs lefty Jon Lester, who worked seven innings for Chicago. Guyer ignited the comeback with a two-out shot in the fifth, then Lindor and Encarnacion followed with their own solo homers in the sixth.

"Whoever says solo homers can't beat you is full of it," Lester quipped.

The Indians will take it. Through 22 games, Cleveland has launched 28 home runs, including 17 of the solo variety. As a team, the Tribe has turned in a .218/.290/.368 slash line to go with 3.5 runs per game, on average. The club is searching for signs of life from its offense, and Wednesday felt like another small step forward.

"I don't think anybody in here was worried about it or had doubts that we were going to hit," Bauer said. "We all know what we're capable of offensively. When the weather warms up and guys get a month or two under their belts, have seen pitching, get in midseason form, we're pretty confident we're going to start rolling."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Guyer beats Lester: When a lefty is on the mound against the Tribe, Guyer typically starts in the outfield. Heading into Wednesday, however, Guyer was just 3-for-21 against left-handed pitching, falling short of his reputation as a weapon vs. southpaws. His fortunes shifted in the fifth, when Guyer sent a 3-1 pitch from Lester deep to left, where the ball caromed off the pole for a game-tying home run with two outs.

Video: CHC@CLE: Guyer knocks a solo homer off the foul pole

"We need him so much against left-handers," Francona said of Guyer. "Boy, against one of the tougher lefties in baseball. Just to get it back tied, man, it felt so good. And we're going to face some lefties coming up here in the next week. So I think that's good."

Give an out, get a run: The Indians tacked on an insurance run in the eighth, but got some help from the Cubs in the process. Jason Kipnis used a sacrifice bunt to move Lindor up to second. After getting the out at first base, Rizzo fired the baseball to second in an effort to double up Lindor, but threw wildly into left field. Thanks to the error, Lindor scored with ease to put the Indians ahead, 4-1.

Video: CHC@CLE: Lindor scores following Rizzo's errant throw

"Kip getting a bunt down," Francona said. "Sometimes good things happen when you play the game right."

MILLER EXITS
In the seventh, relief ace Andrew Miller was summoned from the bullpen to face Rizzo with two outs and a runner on base. The big lefty grabbed at the back of his left leg following his second offering. Miller was quickly met on the mound by Francona and a member of the Tribe's medical staff. He exited the game with what the team announced as left hamstring tightness.

Video: CHC@CLE: Miller exits the game after just two pitches

"He's had it before," Francona said. "We're going to get him MRI'd [Thursday] morning. The hope is, I think last time he said it was 3-4 days. That would really be the hope. We'll know a lot more [Thursday]."

Video: CHC@CLE: Francona on 4-1 win over the Cubs

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
In the seventh inning, Lindor and Javier Baez -- good friends and fellow Puerto Ricans -- had some fun with each other. Baez sent a sharp ground ball into the hole on the left side, where Lindor made a spectacular diving stop. The shortstop's throw was a tick late, and Baez waved a finger in Lindor's direction as he crossed first base. Lindor laughed out at short.

Video: CHC@CLE: Baez wags finger at Lindor from first base

"I loved it. I would've done the same," Lindor said. "I wanted him to be out so I could fist-pump at him. But, he beat it. Baez one, me zero."

UP NEXT
The Indians will send right-hander Mike Clevinger (2-0, 1.75 ERA) to the hill on Thursday, when the Tribe hosts the Mariners in the opener of a four-game set at Progressive Field. Lefty James Paxton is slated to start for Seattle in the 6:10 p.m. ET clash in Cleveland.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

Cleveland Indians, Trevor Bauer