Cleveland Indians starter Zach McAllister made a rehab start for the Lake County Captains Thursday.

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EASTLAKE, Ohio -- Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Zach McAllister made the first of two scheduled rehab starts in the minor leagues for the Lake County Captains, the Tribe's Single A affiliate, on Thursday.

In Lake County's 6-3 win over the Fort Wayne TinCaps, McAllister gave up three earned runs and nine hits in 4.1 innings of work. He struck out four hitters and only allowed one walk.

"It was definitely nice to get back out there and be in a game again, and face some hitters," McAllister said. "It's a different animal when you're out there. No matter what level you're at, there's a little more adrenaline and it's not as much of a controlled environment that a simulated game might be, but it was definitely fun to get back out there.

"I was getting the ball down pretty well. That was nice. What I struggled with up there was leaving balls over the middle of the plate, and today, I got a lot of ground balls. Some of them were hits and all that, but again, I thought I did a pretty good job of keeping the ball down and staying there. It's just nice to get back out there and face hitters again."

McAllister went on the disabled list with back issues shortly after his start against the Detroit Tigers on May 21. It was McAllister's fifth outing over his last six starts where he allowed at least four runs, which was in stark contrast to how he began the season with wins in three of his first four trips to the mound.

"I felt good. I didn't have any issue with it," McAllister said of his back. "The biggest thing for that is being able to get the ball down and I did that pretty well today. For me to be able to get the ball down, throw some pitches down and get some ground balls is important.

"It was a while ago, and I feel, as a player, as an athlete, you're always going to have things that are nagging. It's a matter of being able to maintain it and play through it. You can't play injured, but just knowing that it feels really good right now and has no issues (is huge)."

McAllister said he had a pitch count of 85, and threw each of the four pitches in his repertoire -- fastball, change-up, curveball and slider -- against Fort Wayne.

"Having that stiffness doesn't allow you to get that ball down and get that extension out there," McAllister said. "It leaves you a little more upright than you want to be in your delivery. I was really excited to have the ball driven down to the bottom of the zone."

In addition to getting in his rehab work, McAllister took Thursday's start as an opportunity to show support for a Lake County team that does not have a single player on a Major League 40-man roster.

"For me, it's always about encouragement," McAllister said. "There were some nice plays on some slow ground balls that were made today, and those aren't easy plays. They made it look easy today, and to me, it's about encouraging them, saying, 'Hey, great job. Good play out there,' and communicating.

"It's not necessarily just, 'Come down here, get your work in and get out.' For me, I want to try to help people. Hopefully, they enjoyed it as much as I did."

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