TONY TRIBBLE / AP Enlarge
CINCINNATI - Adam Dunn has a knack for breaking Indians' hearts.
Dunn's three-run homer in the ninth inning off Masa Kobayashi powered the Cincinnati Reds to their season-high fifth straight victory yesterday, a 4-2 win that had a familiar feel for Cleveland's relievers.
They've had this Dunn to them before.
The outfielder hit a game-ending grand slam off Bob Wickman for a 9-8 victory at Great American Ball Park on June 30, 2006, the most dramatic ending in the intrastate series. This one will be high on the list, too.
"I love it - I don't know why - and especially with a packed house," Dunn said. "It's awesome."
Dunn's third homer in three games helped the Reds survive another shutdown pitching performance by Cleveland's Fausto Carmona, who turned a 2-1 lead over to a bullpen in transition.
Kobayashi (2-1) got a chance to close games after Rafael Betancourt struggled earlier in the week, costing him the job he had been given until Joe Borowski returns from a sore arm.
Kobayashi, who saved more than 200 games in Japan, opened the ninth by giving up a single to Joey Votto and hitting Edwin Encarnacion on the left leg with a pitch.
Dunn was told to try to advance the runners with a bunt, but fouled it off. He then latched onto a belt-high fastball, driving it deep into the seats in right field for his ninth homer.
"He actually is one of the best bunters on the team, believe it or not," manager Dusty Baker said. "We were trying to get the runners in scoring position, and he threw him a pitch he could hit. We're playing pretty good baseball now. Things are starting to go pretty good."
Dunn also drove in the winning run Friday night with a bases-loaded walk in the eighth inning of a 4-3 victory. Manager Eric Wedge had Betancourt warming in the bullpen yesterday, but decided to let Kobayashi face Dunn with the game on the line.
"I wanted to throw a two-seamer [fastball], and I didn't think it was down," Kobayashi said through a translator. "I was trying to get it down. I was surprised he tried to bunt, but that didn't change my plan."
Bill Bray (1-0) pitched out of a scoring threat in the ninth to get the win in front of a crowd of 42,023, the first capacity crowd at the ballpark since opening day.
Until the bullpen meltdown, Carmona was in line for another impressive win. The right-hander allowed only Brandon Phillips' RBI single and four hits in 71/3 innings, a fitting follow-up to his last performance. Carmona threw his second career shutout against Toronto on Monday, a 3-0 win.
The Indians have four shutouts in their past eight games. Their starters have been nearly untouchable, allowing only four earned runs in their past 591/3 innings. The offense and the bullpen have been the problem.
"It's tough because you feel they are going to do the job," Carmona said through a translator. "I know how they feel. You want to win so bad for your team."
Cincinnati's Aaron Harang gave up eight hits in seven innings against the Indians' struggling lineup. Cleveland's .235 team batting average is last in the AL. The Indians stranded runners in scoring position in six innings.
Like Carmona, Harang was left with a no-decision because he got little help. The Reds have scored four or fewer runs in eight of his 10 starts.
"I'm not worried about it," said Harang, who is 2-5 with a 3.12 ERA. "I got out of a couple of jams and just kept plugging along."
Ben Francisco put Cleveland ahead 2-1 with a solo homer off David Weathers in the eighth, his third hit of the game. That set up another bunt-to-homer moment for the Reds: Encarnacion failed to get down a bunt in the ninth against Arizona on April 2, then swung away and hit a three-run homer for a 6-5 win, the Reds' first under Baker.
Carmona's shutout streak ended when Phillips singled home a run in the sixth, then did a little showing off. Phillips extended his right arm as he ran to first base, celebrating against the team that gave up on him two years ago.
On Friday night, Phillips lowered his left shoulder and did a skip to home plate after his two-run homer off Jeremy Sowers.
NOTES: Borowski is scheduled to pitch an inning for Class-A Lake County on a rehab assignment tomorrow, then throw again on Wednesday. Borowski has been on the DL with a strained right triceps. ... The final game of the series matches the ERA leaders in both leagues: Cleveland's Cliff Lee (0.67) and Cincinnati's Edinson Volquez (1.12). It will be only the third time that the leagues' ERA leaders faced off, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Mets' Al Leiter got the loss in a game June 26, 1998, against the Yankees' Hideki Irabu, who had a no-decision. Boston's Derek Lowe beat Atlanta's Tom Glavine 6-1 on June 16, 2002.39.10661 -84.50455