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CINCINNATI — Michael Brantley hit a three-run homer and Frank Herrmann took over after Indians starter Fausto Carmona took a tumble, pitching three scoreless innings Saturday for his first big league win in Cleveland’s 3-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
The Indians are 5-0 against their intrastate rival, one win away from the first sweep in the interleague series’ history.
Carmona fell hard while running out a grounder in the third inning, leaving the game with a strained right thigh. Herrmann (1-0) retired nine of the 10 batters he faced.
Brantley followed Carmona’s fall with his first homer in nearly a month off Homer Bailey (3-3).
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.
The defending NL Central champions will be glad to be done with interleague play. The Reds have struggled mightily against the American League, going 5-12. Cleveland is 11-6 against the NL.
Carmona got shook up on 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 Scott Rolen, who threw to second to try to start a double play. Shortstop Paul 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 three-run homer into the Indians’ bullpen, where Herrmann was starting to warm up to replace Carmona. It was Brantley’s first homer since June 6.
Herrmann pitched in 40 games for the Indians last season, going 0-1. He’s in his fourth stint with Cleveland this season, and got his milestone win in his 55th appearance in the majors.
Other than the home run to Brantley, Bailey kept the Indians off balance all game. The right-hander allowed three runs, two earned, and eight hits in his second start since returning from a stint on the disabled list to let his strained pitching shoulder heal.
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. ... 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.