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Simon 'hot and cold' as Votto gets in knocks

Starter charged with three earned runs against intrastate rivals

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians launched three home runs, and Carlos Carrasco turned in a decent outing, leading Cleveland to an 8-3 victory over the Reds on Monday afternoon at Goodyear Ballpark.

The performance by Carrasco gave Cleveland a little more to think about as it weighed whether to hand the right-hander the only job left in the rotation. With one week until the season opener, the Indians are down to Carrasco and Josh Tomlin for the final spot.

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"I'm just doing my job; they've seen everything," said Carrasco, who is out of Minor League options. "The only thing I care about is my job, just doing that. Right now, my mind is on the starting rotation. If they make another decision to send me to the bullpen, I'll do my job. But right now, it's rotation."

In six innings Monday, Carrasco limited Cincinnati to three runs on nine hits, ending the afternoon with five strikeouts and no walks. It was a considerable improvement over Wednesday, when the right-hander allowed eight runs (five earned) in only 2 2/3 innings of a loss to the A's.

Helping Carrasco's cause were home runs by Lonnie Chisenhall, Ryan Raburn and Jason Kipnis.

After being told in the morning that he would be on the Opening Day roster, Chisenhall responded with a solo home run off Reds starter Alfredo Simon in the second inning. In the third, Raburn pushed the Indians to a 3-0 lead by drilling a two-run shot to left field.

Simon was charged with four runs (three earned) on six hits in five innings, during which he struck out three and walked one. In the fifth inning, an error by left fielder Ryan Ludwick allowed Kipnis to reach third base, setting the stage for a sacrifice fly from Raburn.

"He ran a little hot and cold today," Reds manager Bryan Price said of Simon. "He made some great pitches. He had a really good sinker, his cutter-slider hybrid pitch he has was probably the best I've seen it this spring. Every now and again, that front side would get open and balls started to run a little bit more.

"I think when he gets into trouble, he tries to manufacture movement with the sinker. He doesn't need to do that. ... He's definitely ready. He's stretched out over 90 pitches. His arm is in great shape. His body is in good shape. He is ready to go."

Kipnis added a three-run homer to right field off Reds reliever J.J. Hoover in the sixth inning.

The Reds first broke through against Carrasco in the fourth inning, when Joey Votto singled and later crossed the plate on a base hit from Ludwick. Votto finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Cincinnati came through with two more runs against the right-hander in the sixth -- thanks to RBI doubles from Jay Bruce and Zack Cozart -- to trim the Tribe's advantage to 7-3. Cleveland added its last run in the ninth.

"I feel good," Carrasco said. "The last inning, they got two runs. I missed a couple spots right there, but I finished strong. More important, I feel good."

Up next: Billy Hamilton has reached safely in 14 of his 16 games this spring, and he is 9-for-9 in stolen-base attempts. Hamilton is expected back in the lineup Tuesday when the Reds play the A's in Phoenix at 4:05 p.m. ET on Gameday Audio. Jeff Francis, who is trying to earn a roster spot, will make the start for Cincinnati against Oakland's Tommy Milone.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.

Cincinnati Reds, Ryan Ludwick, Alfredo Simon, Joey Votto