CINCINNATI - Breaking ball? Gone. Changeup? Gone too. A pair of fastballs? Shin-Soo Choo clobbered those just as well.
The outfielder provided Cleveland's few bright moments in an intrastate series that won't be remembered for much else.
Choo homered twice off Bronson Arroyo - the second time he's done it this season - and the Indians ended their seven-game losing streakyesterday, beating the Cincinnati Reds 5-3 right after they started playing for next year.
The Indians traded power hitter Russell Branyan to Seattle for a pair of prospects before the game, conceding this season is a lost cause. Then, Choo gave them a brief respite from their misery.
"I feel good about stopping the losing streak," Choo said.
He hit a solo homer in the first and a three-run shot in the fifth off Arroyo (7-4), who can't seem to get him out. Choo also homered twice off Arroyo on May 21 during Cincinnati's 7-4 win in Cleveland. The four homers have come off a breaking ball, a changeup and a pair of fastballs.
"Matchups in this game are strange sometimes," Arroyo said. "Obviously, he's confident against me. Four home runs in two games is outstanding."
Despite the loss, Cincinnati remained a half-game ahead of St. Louis in the NL Central. The Cardinals lost to Kansas City 10-3 yesterday. It's the latest in a season that the Reds have been in first place since 1999.
Rookie Mitch Talbot (8-6) held the NL's most prolific lineup to three singles over seven innings. Talbot is one of the AL's best pitchers on the road, a trend that held when he crossed leagues. He retired 12 in a row over one stretch.
Just what the shaken Indians needed to break that losing streak.
"Maybe the night before, you think you really need to do what you can to get that win," Talbot said. "Maybe you can break something up."
Chris Perez gave up a two-run homer to Joey Votto in the eighth, cutting it to 5-3. Kerry Wood struck out the side in the ninth for his sixth save in nine tries.
Now, their manager can get a clean shave for the first time since the losing streak began. He'd been putting it off until they won a game.
It took a week.
"First off, I get to shave my salt-and-pepper goatee," manager Manny Acta said.
The rare Indians win - only their second in 13 games - completed a dismal interleague showing. Cleveland went 5-13 this year against NL teams, including 2-4 against the intrastate rival Reds. Cincinnati has dominated the series lately, going 13-5 over the past three years.
Things are so bad that the Indians already started looking to next year and beyond. They traded Branyan for prospects and called up first baseman Matt LaPorta, who will play every day as part of his development. Catching prospect Carlos Santana, who was called up June 11, added a solo homer yesterday.
Outfielder Michael Brantley - acquired two years ago in the C.C. Sabathia trade along with LaPorta - will likely get promoted soon.
"Becoming younger - we won't shy away from it," Acta said. "The kids need to keep going hard and continue to learn at this level. This is never the easiest level to learn, but good times are coming."
Cleveland has the third-worst record in the majors only three years after it lost to Boston in the AL championship series.39.10661 -84.50455
Shin-Soo Choo homered twice off Bronson Arroyo - the second time he's done it this season - and the Indians ended their seven-game losing streakyesterday, beating the Cincinnati Reds 5-3 right after they started playing for next year.