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Indians unable to back solid Bauer vs. O's

Special to MLB.com

BALTIMORE -- Trevor Bauer was off to a solid start Friday, but the analytical pitcher knew it was fool's gold, because he didn't have command of all his pitches.

"I really struggled putting guys away tonight," Bauer said. "My slider was terrible. When I can't put guys away with that, they know I'm going to throw curveballs. And so when I throw bad ones, I get away with them less."

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BALTIMORE -- Trevor Bauer was off to a solid start Friday, but the analytical pitcher knew it was fool's gold, because he didn't have command of all his pitches.

"I really struggled putting guys away tonight," Bauer said. "My slider was terrible. When I can't put guys away with that, they know I'm going to throw curveballs. And so when I throw bad ones, I get away with them less."

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It was a bad curveball that proved to be the difference in the game, as Baltimore's Trey Mancini broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth inning with a two-run double off a hanging Bauer curve to send Cleveland to a 3-1 defeat, spoiling a quality start for Bauer.

Video: CLE@BAL: Mancini rips a two-run double to left-center

"On a lot of nights, seven innings and three runs, and we're talking about how well he did," manager Terry Francona said.

Bauer (1-2) got off to a fast start, allowing no hits and registering four strikeouts -- all looking -- through the first three innings. But Baltimore's Manny Machado came up in the fourth and hammered a home run to straightaway center field to tie the score at 1. The fifth inning got off to a poor start when a hit by pitch and single put Bauer in a two-on, no-out situation, and Mancini followed with the decisive blow.

"It was elevated and inner-third, inner-half," Bauer said. "I probably should have thrown a cutter, at least one, tonight. I pretty much limited myself to three pitches and one of them wasn't working, so when I'm a two-pitch pitcher, I'm not nearly as good as I can be."

Bauer finished his night giving up five hits while striking out six -- ending a four-start streak of at least seven strikeouts. The three earned runs he allowed were a season high, and with the lack of run support Cleveland's starters have been getting, it proved to be a big hurdle to overcome.

Video: CLE@BAL: Bauer gets Jones to ground into double play

"I was happy with my ability to throw strikes and command the ball, especially in a ballpark where I typically struggle to do that," he said. "I was happy with that aspect of it. I was able to be competitive. I pitched well enough to win, I just didn't get it done tonight."

The Indians' offense continues to sputter, as Edwin Encarnacion drove in the only run for the Tribe when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the first inning. Michael Brantley and Tyler Naquin had two hits apiece while the rest of the lineup could manage only two hits total as the Indians tied a season high with 12 strikeouts on the night.

"It's extremely frustrating," shortstop Francisco Lindor said. "I have to do a better job of helping my team. It's a bad streak. It will turn around. It's just a matter of time."

Video: CLE@BAL: Lindor makes a quick charging stop, throw

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Missed chance: The Indians had a golden opportunity to jump out to a big early lead, loading the bases with one out in the first inning on a Jason Kipnis single, a Jose Ramirez walk and a Brantley blooper to left. Baltimore starter Dylan Bundy grazed Encarnacion with a pitch to give Cleveland a 1-0 lead, but Yonder Alonso's fly ball to left wasn't deep enough to allow Ramirez to tag up and Roberto Perez followed with the first of his four strikeouts on the night to end the threat.

"It's really tough," Alonso said. "We had a chance to put away the game right there. We should have done a lot better there."

Video: CLE@BAL: Encarnacion gets HBP with the bases loaded

SOUND SMART
Bauer's loss ended a run of six straight victories against American League East opponents. His last loss to an AL East foe before Friday was May 8, 2017, against Toronto. Overall, Bauer is 9-13 against the division.

HE SAID IT
"I don't think you just keep putting it off, but we have proven hitters that are going to hit. I hope it starts tomorrow. It's certainly frustrating for everybody, but I do believe we're going to hit again."
-- Francona, on the team's offensive struggles

Video: CLE@BAL: Francona on the Indians' loss to Orioles

UP NEXT
Right-hander Mike Clevinger (1-0, 2.70 ERA) takes the hill after an extended seven-day rest in a 4:05 p.m. ET start Saturday against the Orioles' Chris Tillman. Clevinger picked up two victories against the Orioles last season, including a win at Baltimore on June 22.

Elliott Smith is a contributor to MLB.com.

Cleveland Indians, Trevor Bauer