Cleveland’s first baseman calmly fielded Joey Votto‘s bouncer and made a strong throw to catcher Roberto Perez, cutting down Hamilton for the first out of the ninth inning. Just like that, the Reds went from second and third with nobody out to first and second with one out, and Cleveland held on for a 4-3 win on Wednesday night.
“He’s a fast runner, so I had to make sure to not only throw with a lot of zip, but that it was accurate,” Alonso said. “It was huge. It gave us first and second with one out. That opens up a lot of different things.”
Melky Cabrera lofted a go-ahead two-run homer into the left-field seats in the sixth inning, and the Indians extended their winning streak to five games.
The Indians held the Reds scoreless after a three-run first. In the sixth, Cody Reed (0-1) walked Alonso before allowing Cabrera’s third homer of the season.
“It’s nice,” Alonso said about having Cabrera in the lineup. “He enjoys the game. He plays with a chip on his shoulder.”
Four relievers combined for 3 2/3 scoreless innings before Brad Hand escaped trouble with Alonso’s help in the ninth for his 28th save in 33 opportunities.
“Hoo, boy,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “I don’t know where to start. Cody Allen gave us two innings of high-leverage relief. A lot of good things happened in that game.”
Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman had no problem with the decision by Hamilton, who reached third on Jose Peraza’s ground-rule double.
“Billy was going on contact because it is Billy,” Riggleman said. “If Votto hit it in a position where he could score, it’s tied. What was supposed to happen if Billy’s out is I wanted Peraza to go to third. I know (Eugenio) Suarez had a rough night, but I want him up there with a man on third and less than two outs.”
Suarez, second in the NL in RBIs going into the game, struck out five times, the last in the ninth.
Greg Allen had two hits and drove in a run, helping the Indians finish their first sweep of a three-game series against the Reds since 2015 and the first in Cincinnati since 1999. The AL Central leaders have won seven of eight overall.
The free-falling Reds were 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left 11 runners on base while slipping to 4-11 since winning three straight in late July over the Phillies.
Shane Bieber allowed Scooter Gennett’s RBI single and Preston Tucker’s two-run homer in the first. It was Tucker’s first homer for Cincinnati since being acquired from Atlanta on July 30 as part of the package for Adam Duvall.
Bieber regrouped from there and lasted 4 1/3 innings, allowing seven hits and two walks with five strikeouts and a wild pitch.
Dan Otero (2-1) got Phillip Ervin to fly out with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth to earn the win.
After walking five in four innings of his season debut on Aug. 8, Reds starter Robert Stephenson walked four while giving up two hits and two runs with two strikeouts and a wild pitch in 1 2/3 innings. He threw 57 pitches, just 26 of them strikes.
BEEN A WHILE
The Reds’ lead over the Indians was their first since they scored seven runs in the ninth inning of a 7-4 win at Cleveland on July 10. The Indians outscored Cincinnati by a combined 37-8 in between Reds leads.
Stephenson has needed a combined 133 pitches to get through 5 2/3 innings of his first two starts, issuing a total of nine walks along the way.
Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez became the first unanimous winner of the Ohio Cup Most Outstanding Player award in voting by Cincinnati and Cleveland media. He hit five home runs and drove in 11 runs while the Indians were winning four of the six games in the intrastate rivalry.
Indians: RHP Josh Tomlin, out since July 16 with a right hamstring strain, will pitch on Saturday for either Triple-A Columbus or Double-A Akron. Tomlin threw 4 1/3 innings in a rehab appearance on Monday.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco (14-6, 3.50 ERA) is scheduled to start the opener of a brief three-game homestand against Baltimore on Friday.
Reds: RHP Anthony DeSclafani (6-3, 4.45) is 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA in three career starts against the Giants, his opponent in the opener of a three-game home series on Friday.