CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians were mired in a four-game losing streak after dropping a 14-inning affair in the early morning hours Wednesday, but that slide stopped when Corey Kluber took the mound against the Arizona Diamondbacks Wednesday night.
Kluber limited the Diamondbacks to four hits and no runs in seven innings pitched, as he led the Indians to a 6-1 win at Chase Field.
"When you put up all zeroes, I think that speaks volumes right there," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Early in the game, I thought he worked into having command. Early in the game, he threw a lot of pitches quickly, but then, he got some double plays that really got him back into the pitch count, not only kept them off the scoreboard, but was keeping his pitch count manageable where he can go seven. Later in the game, his pitch count was up because he started striking people out. I thought he was really good."
After dominating in the month of May, Kluber struggled to go more than six innings during his five outings in June. However, he struck out eight batters and walked only one in those seven innings against the Diamondbacks.
"Klube, he was lights out," Indians center field Michael Bourn told Sportstime Ohio. "He came out and dominated and didn't let them score, had them off balance. I was watching him from center field, and, to me, that was one of his best performances, not because of how he pitched, but you could see the hitters confused."
In addition to his dominance on the mound, Kluber earned his first Major League hit when he smacked a single to left field in the top of the fourth inning.
"He's an athlete man," Bourn said. "He approaches every game the same. He's always focused and locked in before the game. He came out tonight, and showed a great performance."
Francona added, "That shocks me how guys can do that. I saw Kevin Cash hit for three years and not do that, guys that work at it all the time. I don't know how pitchers do it. Even if you're hitting, you're talking about guys that haven't hit for a long time at the Major League level. To throw a line drive out there, that amazes me."
Kluber got a lift from his defense in the bottom of the third inning when catcher Yan Gomes threw out center fielder Ender Inciarte who was trying to steal third base. Lonnie Chisenhall blocked third base with his leg, and tagged the runner out.
After Inciarte was called safe, Francona challenged the play, and the call was overturned.
"I thought I saw what I saw, but I think everybody's out when it's the other team," Francona said. (Bench coach Brad Mills) gave me a pretty emphatic thumbs up, so it seemed like a good time to do it.
"Sometimes, you've got to be patient, know and trust guys that work hard and are conscientious because his talent's there. He's become a force behind the plate. We pitch out very seldom, and we don't need to because he controls the running game. As long as the pitchers give him a chance, he's going to throw them out more often than not."
Offensively, the Indians got things rolling in the first inning when Bourn tripled to start the game and came around to score on a sacrifice fly off the bat of shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. He tripled again to start the third inning and scored on a groundout from left fielder Michael Brantley.
Bourn went three for four with two runs scored and became the first Indians player since 1949 to have triples in each of his first two plate appearances in a game.
"I don't have a formula for it," Bourn said. "I just see the ball and hit it. I didn't have a thing that I was trying to do something special. I'd just see the ball and hit it. It's easy to get one run on the board. A sac fly, like Cabby did, can get you on the board quick, and give our pitcher a lead before he even steps on the mound.
"When you try to do too much in this game, it confuses you and it makes you do other things. I just tried to see the ball and hit it tonight, tried to stay aggressive, not get defensive while I'm out there. I was able to do that and I try to take that approach to every at-bat."