ST. LOUIS — Jason Kipnis hit a tiebreaking three-run home run off closer Jason Motte in the ninth inning and the Cleveland Indians beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-1 on Sunday to take two of three in the interleague series.
Carlos Beltran homered for the second straight day to increase his National League-leading total to 18, and Joe Kelly allowed one run in five-plus innings in his major league debut for the Cardinals. St. Louis is the only major league team that has not won a series over the Indians, who are 14-6 overall and 8-4 on the road against the Cardinals.
Michael Brantley extended his hitting streak to 18 games and Ubaldo Jimenez had a season-best seven strikeouts in seven strong innings for Cleveland.
The Indians had scored just one run in 19 innings before the ninth, when pinch hitter Johnny Damon hit a leadoff single and Asdrubal Cabrera walked with one out. Kipnis hit his 10th homer on a 2-2 pitch from Motte (3-3).
The Indians won despite going just 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position and 2 for 18 with men on base.
Chris Perez, who once competed with Motte for the St. Louis closer spot, finished for his 20th save in 21 chances. He has saved 20 in a row since opening day.
Jimenez had his first walk-free game of the season, after coming in with 43 walks in 62 2-3 innings. The right-hander has walked just one in his last two starts covering 13 2-3 innings and faced just three three-ball counts against the Cardinals. The first came in the first inning against Beltran, who belted a 3-1 pitch an estimated 428 feet to right-center.
Vinnie Pestano (3-0) walked three straight batters with one out in the eighth but recovered to strike out No. 3 hitter Yadier Molina and cleanup man Allen Craig.
Jimenez retired 13 in a row after the Beltran homer, including five strikeouts in a span of eight at-bats, before Daniel Descalco singled with two outs in the fifth. Jimenez then struck out Adron Chambers.
Kelly, who replaced the injured Jaime Garcia in the rotation, left to a standing ovation after Brantley singled to start the sixth and kept his hit streak alive.
Brantley is batting .357 (25 for 69) during his hit streak, the longest current run in the majors and two shy of the season's longest by Adam Jones of Baltimore that ended May 30. Brantley can match his career best, set in 2010, at Cincinnati on Tuesday.
NOTES: Cardinals cleanup hitter Matt Holliday missed his second straight start with mid-back spasms, but could return Tuesday after the team's day off Monday. ... Cardinals utilityman Matt Carpenter (right side) is on track to begin a rehab assignment in a few days. ... Longtime Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan's family had an impromptu reunion and watched Shelley Duncan start in LF for Cleveland. ... Cardinals manager Mike Matheny and former manager Tony La Russa both have charity golf events Monday. ... Cabrera singled in the first and has hit in 12 straight. ... Jimenez made his plate appearances and struck out three times, leaving him with a .116 average (31 for 268) with 89 strikeouts. ... Pestano, who entered with two walks in 23 2-3 innings, had his 10th consecutive scoreless outing covering 10 innings.