ST. LOUIS (AP) — After a rough debut, Cleveland Indians rookie Shane Bieber has found his routine.
Edwin Encarnacion and Lonnie Chisenhall hit back-to-back homers, Bieber pitched six strong innings and the Indians beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-1 on Wednesday night.
Bieber (3-0) struck out seven to become the seventh pitcher in baseball’s modern era to strike out six or more batters in each of his first four major league starts. After giving up four runs in 5 2/3 innings in his first outing, Bieber has given up just two runs in his last three starts and lowered his ERA to 2.22.
“It’s just being able to fall into a routine and just get a little more comfortable within that routine and within the clubhouse here and with the guys and all that,” Bieber said. “That goes a long way to being able to establish what you want to do.”
The Indians avoided a series sweep and have won eight of 10. Cleveland starters improved to 17-2 with a 2.26 ERA across 26 starts in series finales, including wins in their last nine decisions.
“For a young kid when runners are on and things start to happen, he seems to pitch more maturely than his age would indicate,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He starts throwing his breaking ball, gets some chase, doesn’t panic, game doesn’t speed up. That’s a real nice trait for anybody, let alone a kid that’s got four major league starts.”
Bieber jumped on a first-pitch fastball from Jack Flaherty in the fourth for a double, his first major league hit.
Jose Martinez snapped Bieber’s scoreless innings streak at 14 innings with a one-out RBI single in the third.
“I thought he had a good breaking ball,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Bieber. “It must have been a little different from than what guys have seen lately, you could tell some of the swings even in counts where they might have been looking for it might have been off a bit.”
Encarnacion and Chisenhall gave the Indians a 2-0 lead in the second, marking Cleveland’s fifth back-to-back home runs this season.
Francisco Lindor walked and Michael Brantley doubled to spark a two-run third that extended the Indians’ lead to 4-0. Tyler Naquin doubled home another run in the sixth.
Francona credited a loose atmosphere after the Indians dropped the first two in the series.
“It’s not necessarily about being silly but it’s about you don’t want to just be tight,” Francona said. “We already lost a couple tough games and it’s nice to come back and play a good one with a day off tomorrow and a long flight.”
Flaherty (3-3) went four innings, his shortest outing this season as the Cardinals had their four-game winning streak snapped. It followed perhaps his most dominant start, in which he carried a no-hitter for 6 1/3 innings against Milwaukee on Friday.
“Those two home runs were missed spots and I just wasn’t able to execute,” Flaherty said. “They hit some balls that fell.”
Matt Carpenter walked, doubled and scored a night after scoring five runs and getting five hits.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco (right elbow contusion) threw a bullpen session and will throw about 65 pitches on a rehab assignment Saturday at Double-A Akron.
Cardinals: SS Paul DeJong (left hand fracture) is scheduled to meet with doctors Thursday with the hopes of being cleared to head out for a rehab assignment.
Indians: RHP Trevor Bauer (7-5, 2.44 ERA) will kick off a three-game series against Oakland and RHP Paul Blackburn (1-2, 8.83 ERA) on Friday. Bauer is 1-2 with a 4.44 ERA in five career starts against the A’s.
Cardinals: RHP Miles Mikolas (8-2, 2.69 ERA) will get the start as St. Louis hosts Atlanta and RHP Julio Teheran (5-5, 4.52 ERA) in the first of a three-game set Friday. Mikolas threw 2 1/3 scoreless relief innings in his only career appearance against the Braves on Aug. 15, 2012.