CINCINNATI -- Weeks of poor starting-pitching performances had put a strain on the Reds' bullpen and left the team sorely in need of a solid outing from Scott Feldman on Monday. Feldman came through, tossing six innings of one-run baseball in a 5-1 win over the Indians.
Before Monday, Reds starters were 0-7 with an 8.79 ERA over the previous nine games, a stretch in which the team went 1-8. Feldman had lasted just 2 2/3 innings in his previous start, giving up five runs in a 7-5 loss to the Cubs on Wednesday.
"You never want to throw up a clanker like that last one, but you have to have a short memory in this game," Feldman said. "And baseball's just one of those funny games. You have some good and some bad, and you've just got to try to battle. ... It's a long season, and luckily, I did better than last time."
Feldman burst out of the gate by striking out the first five batters he faced. His off-speed stuff fooled the Cleveland lineup the first time through -- all three strikeouts in the first inning came via his curveball. Through five innings, he retired 15 of 18 and gave up two hits.
"We had a meeting before the game and talked about the game plan," catcher Tucker Barnhart said. "He said, 'You going to fill in the spots that I leave out as far as attacking these guys?' There was maybe one guy in there I offered some input on. It was like he was reading the [same] sheet of paper that I had. From the meeting, we were in a rhythm. We were on the same page."
But things went smoothly for only so long. Feldman gave up a solo home run to Jason Kipnis to lead off the sixth. Then Francisco Lindor doubled to left, and Michael Brantley walked on four pitches.
That brought pitching coach Mack Jenkins out from the dugout.
"Mack came out for a visit and told me to get a double play," Feldman said. "And it worked out, luckily."
Feldman and Barnhart opted for a changeup -- a pitch Feldman threw just four times all night -- to force the Indians' next batter, Carlos Santana, into a 4-6-3 double play.
Following a mistake pitch that Edwin Encarnacion nearly crushed for a homer -- it curved foul and hit the side of the scoreboard -- Feldman got Encarnacion to look at an inning-ending strike three, ending the best chance Cleveland had to take the lead.
"Luckily, it went foul. He threw probably the best pitch of the night on the [last] pitch, a backdoor sinker," Barnhart said.
Many of the Reds' struggles over the past few weeks have stemmed from their rotation. Coming into the series, Cincinnati's combined starters' ERA of 5.93 was the worst in baseball. But for at least for one day, they can credit a starter for leading the team to victory.
"He gave us a chance to take a lead," manager Bryan Price said. "That's been tough for us here lately. He put up a zero, he was locked in and was able to get through their lineup that first time through with some strikeouts."