Right-hander Justin Masterson takes the mound for the first time with the front-running Cleveland Indians tonight when they host the Cincinnati Reds in the finale of a three-game interleague series at Progressive Field.
The Indians entered the series 1 1/2 games behind the Chicago White Sox in the American League Central Division, but a pair of one-run defeats of the Reds combined with a pair of White Sox losses to the Chicago Cubs have yielded a half-game lead.
Cleveland went for the dramatic ending in game two on Tuesday, when Asdrubal Cabrera hit his second career game-ending home run, a two-run shot off Aroldis Chapman in the 10th to lift the Indians to a 3-2 victory.
It was Cabrera's seventh homer of the season, giving the Indians their first two-game win streak since June 5-6 at Detroit. It made a winner of Nick Hagadone (1-0), despite the lefty's rocky appearance in the top of the 10th.
"It was a great win, very dramatic," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "The top hitters in our lineup stepped up and had tremendous at-bats. Everyone will remember the walkoff by Cabrera, which was a great at-bat, but (Shin-Soo) Choo before him had an outstanding at-bat."
Willie Harris led off the top of the 10th for the Reds with a double off Joe Smith, but was thrown out at third on a subsequent bunt attempt. Harris would have been safe if he had attempted a normal slide, but tried to hook his foot around the bag, allowing Jack Hannahan a chance to tag him.
Chris Heisey followed with a broken-bat grounder toward Hannahan, who fielded the ball even though the sharp piece of wood slid between his legs. Hagadone was brought in to get out of the inning, but uncorked two wild pitches to allow Heisey to score the go-ahead run.
"It didn't matter how you got the run across, only that you got the run," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We got the run, but you always want more. It's a tough one to take because we did have the lead."
Chapman (4-3) came in to close the game for Cincinnati, but allowed a one-out single to Choo, who went 2-for-2 against lefties this game after coming in just 13-for-74 against them this season.
It was only the fifth hit to a lefty Chapman had allowed all season in 42 at- bats.
The Reds, who won three straight against Cleveland in a home series earlier this month, saw their lead in the National League Central trimmed to 2 1/2 games with Pittsburgh's 7-2 win over Minnesota.
Masterson, a second-round pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2006, came to Cleveland with Hagadone and a minor-leaguer in a deal for Victor Martinez in 2009.
He was 6-13 in his initial full season with the Indians, then won a career- high 12 games last season and picked up win No. 3 of 2012 with a 2-0 defeat of the Pirates in his last start on June 15.
In that game, the 27-year-old native of Kingston, Jamaica tossed seven scoreless innings and allowed four hits with nine strikeouts.
He's 1-2 in three lifetime meetings with the Reds with a 4.58 earned run average in 19 2/3 innings.
For Cincinnati, veteran righty Bronson Arroyo faces the Indians for the 10th time in his 341st big-league appearance.
Arroyo, who was drafted by Pittsburgh in 1995, also played with Boston before coming to the Reds in a deal for outfielder Wily Mo Pena before the 2006 season.
He won a career-high 17 games in 2010 before slumping to nine wins last season and winning three of his initial seven decisions in 2012, his 13th season in the majors.
The Key West, FL native ended a three-decision skid in his last start on June 15, tossing six innings of four-hit, three-run ball in a 7-3 defeat of the New York Mets.
He's 5-4 lifetime against the Indians with a 4.67 ERA.
Cleveland leads the interleague series between the teams, 41-39.
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