CINCINNATI (AP) - The Cincinnati Reds will be delighted when interleague play is done.
The American League has been their undoing this season, especially those games against their intrastate rival. Frank Herrmann took over after Cleveland starter Fausto Carmona took a tumble on Saturday, and the rest of the Indians' bullpen followed his lead for a 3-1 victory.
The Indians improved to 5-0 against the Reds, one win away from the first sweep in the interleague series' history. Overall, Cincinnati is 5-12 against the AL this season.
``It's been tough,' shortstop Paul Janish said. ``Here of late, we've been struggling to get the big hit. We've been struggling against the AL teams. I'm hoping we can get back to playing the NL.'
One more game left before that happens.
Michael Brantley hit a three-run homer off Homer Bailey (3-3) during Cleveland's strange third inning, one that put them ahead and cost them a pitcher. Carmona fell hard while running out a grounder, leaving the game with a strained right thigh.
Carmona had bandages on his forearm and thigh, and two fingers on his pitching hand were taped together after the game. The right-hander smiled and declined to talk about his tumble.
Brantley followed with his first homer in nearly a month, one of the few bad pitches that Bailey threw in his second start since returning from a sprained pitching shoulder. The right-hander gave up eight hits and three runs - two earned - in seven innings.
``I feel good,' said Bailey, who has been on the disabled list twice this season because of shoulder problems. ``I'm going out and competing well.
``We've still got three months left. We're only halfway there. We've got the whole second half to get it together. Hopefully, we'll be right there in September and nobody will remember this day.'
The Reds' hitters won't forget it. Cincinnati stranded 12 runners - seven of them in scoring position - and had a runner thrown out at the plate.
``Our total game's not in sync,' manager Dusty Baker said. ``We're having trouble getting that big hit. We had them in a lot of jams - a lot of opportunities.'
Herrmann (1-0) retired nine of the 10 batters he faced, getting his first big league win. Joe Smith struck out Brandon Phillips with the bases loaded in the seventh, extending his streak to 19 scoreless appearances.
Joey Votto homered in the eighth off left-hander Tony Sipp. Vinnie Pestano escaped a two-on threat in the ninth, fanning Scott Rolen for his first save in four tries.
It's the first time that Cleveland has won five games in a season series against Cincinnati. No team has swept the season series, which started in 1997. The Reds went 5-1 in 2008.
Carmona was shaken up following his chest-first tumble. He was the Indians' lone All-Star last season, but has fallen on hard times, tying for the major league lead in losses at 4-10. One bad step cost him a chance to get his season turned around.
Lou Marson singled before Carmona grounded to third baseman Rolen, who threw to second to try to start a double play. Janish pulled his foot off the base as he reached for the throw, an error that left Marson safe.
Carmona was running hard down the line to beat the anticipated relay and tripped a few feet from the base, sending him sprawling. He got up, stretched his right thigh and pitching hand, talked to manager Manny Acta and walked off the field.
Brantley followed with a drive into the Indians' bullpen, where Herrmann was starting to warm up to replace Carmona. It was Brantley's first homer since June 6.
NOTES: The first two games of the series sold out. Cincinnati has sold out eight games this season. ... Three umpires worked the top of the first inning because Derryl Cousins was ill. He took his spot at third base for the bottom of the inning. ... The Indians expect closer Chris Perez back Sunday from his grandmother's funeral in Florida. ... Pestano's last save came on Sept. 26. ... Herrmann got the win in his 55th major league appearance. ... Indians OF Travis Buck was diagnosed with a mild strain of his left hamstring, suffered during Friday night's game. He's expected back in a couple of days.
The Associated Press News Service
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