CLEVELAND — Andrew Miller hadn't given up a home run this season prior to this week. He had been as virtually unhittable as any pitcher in baseball, as no hitter had been able to get ahold of a fastball or slider enough to send it out of the park or, really, do any damage at all.
In a play that stunned Miller and most of the crowd at Progressive Field, the Los Angels Dodgers hit the go-ahead home run off of Miller for the second straight game, as the Indians fell, 6-4, on Wednesday night.
The loss dropped the Indians to 31-31 for the season. It's the first time since April 18 (7-7) they have been at or below .500.
Tied 2-2 in the eighth, Enrique Hernandez drove a solo home run to right field off Miller that led to a four-run eighth to take the lead and put the game out of reach. On Tuesday night, Miller (3-2) also gave up a go-ahead home run, also in the eighth inning, that one belonging to Cody Bellinger.
The Dodgers (41-25) added on following the go-ahead shot. Yasmani Grandal grounded into what appeared to be an inning-ending double play, but Erik Gonzalez, who started the game after Jason Kipnis was scratched due to neck stiffness, wasn't on the base during the turn, allowing a run to score. With Zach McAllister on the mound, Chris Taylor later blooped a single into center field to score two more runs and make it 6-2.
In the bottom of the eighth, Michael Brantley doubled in a run and Edwin Encarnacion drove him in with a check-swing single to chip away at the Dodgers' lead, but the Indians couldn't overcome the Dodgers' rally in the eighth.
The Dodgers earlier in the game put two runners in scoring position in the second inning and got both home on a 75-foot, weakly-hit ground ball and a play more-often seen in Little League.
With two outs, Joc Pederson grounded a ball to third base that Jose Ramirez had to quickly gather to try to make it a close play, but he couldn't get a handle on it, putting the Dodgers up 1-0. With Chris Taylor on third, Pederson then tried to steal second base. Yan Gomes fired to second base to try to get the third out and had Pederson beat by several steps, but Gonzalez instead threw back to Gomes after Taylor had broken for home. His throw was off line, technically meaning Taylor stole home and giving the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.
The Dodgers later tried the double-steal again, only this time Gomes fired to third base and caught Pederson too far off the base to end the inning.
The Indians' cut the lead in half in the sixth and evened the score in the seventh against the Dodgers bullpen. Facing Grant Dayton with runners on the corners, Michael Brantley hit a fly ball to center field that right fielder Yaisel Puig, owner one of the game's best arms, ran over to catch. Bradley Zimmer, in the leadoff spot in Kipnis' absence, tested his arm and won the battle to make it 2-1. An inning later, Jose Ramirez blasted a solo home run to right field, his ninth of the season.
Indians ace Corey Kluber turned in another strong outing since his return to the disabled list and made some history while doing it. Kluber allowed two runs on four hits and a walk and struck out 10 in seven innings.
With a strikeout of Puig in the fifth, Kluber became the 11th Indians pitcher to reach 1,000 strikeouts in his career. He also became the fastest to reach that mark in franchise history, besting Bob Feller by 19 games (148-167). Sam McDowell (169 games), CC Sabathia (195) and Luis Tiant (199) all reached that mark in fewer than 200 games.
Kluber also became the seventh pitcher in baseball history to reach 1,000 strikeouts in 150 appearances or fewer, joining some elite company that includes Kerry Wood (134 games), Tim Lincecum (136), Roger Clemens (143), Stephen Strasburg (144), Dwight Gooden (145) and Hideo Nomo (147).
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