Zach McAllister's gem in the first game put the Indians in position for a sweep of Wednesday's doubleheader against the San Diego Padres.
A lack of hitting and a call that didn't go Cleveland's way ended the afternoon with a split.
McAllister pitched 7 2-3 scoreless innings and Jason Kipnis hit a two-run homer in the sixth, leading the Indians to a 2-0 win in game one.
Trevor Bauer (0-1), added to the roster to start the second game, allowed two runs and struck out a career-high eight in six innings, but the offense was shut down in a 2-1 loss.
The Indians were looking at a deficit immediately in game two. San Diego scored in the first, thanks in part to a call on the field that was ruled a no-catch by first base umpire Bob Davidson, even though Indians right fielder Elliot Johnson appeared to have made the play on a ball hit by Chris Denorfia. Indians manager Terry Francona used his challenge to have the play reviewed, but replay officials in New York upheld the call on the field.
A couple of hours later, Francona was able to find some humor in the situation.
"If anything, I thought they were going to call traveling," he said.
Johnson was convinced the call was wrong, despite the fact it was upheld.
"It was a catch, it was an out, let's move on," he said.
Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera fielded Everth Cabrera's ground ball to start the game, but his throw to first went into San Diego's dugout for a two-base error.
Johnson made a long run for Denorfia's fly ball and crashed into the fence in front of San Diego's bullpen. Johnson had the ball in his glove momentarily, but dropped it as he transferred it to make a throw. Davidson ruled Johnson didn't have control of the ball long enough and Francona immediately came out to talk with the umpire.
After a brief discussion, Francona challenged the call. After a delay of two minutes, the call was upheld. Cabrera went to third and the play was scored a double. Seth Smith's groundout scored Cabrera as the crowd's boos grew louder.
"I thought it was worth the challenge," Francona said.
Mike Aviles' sacrifice fly in the third inning was the Indians' only run of the second game. Robbie Erlin (1-0) allowed one run in six innings before San Diego's bullpen took over.
Closer Huston Street retired Carlos Santana to start the ninth, but Ryan Raburn lined a single off the glove of shortstop Everth Cabrera. After pinch-runner Nyjer Morgan stole second, Michael Brantley walked on a 3-2 pitch. Yan Gomes flied out and Asdrubal Cabrera lined to right.
"We needed a well-pitched game and Robbie stepped up after a very tough loss in game one," Padres manager Bud Black said.
Since staff ace Justin Masterson pitched seven shutout innings in the season opener against Oakland, Cleveland's rotation has struggled. McAllister made sure that changed against the Padres.
"Besides Masterson, the first go-through didn't go well for any of us," he said. "We batted and competed, but we knew we had to do a better job than what we did that first go-around."
McAllister (1-0) allowed five hits, struck out seven and didn't walk a batter.
Eric Stults (0-2) took a shutout into the sixth, but third baseman Alexi Amarista's throwing error was followed by Kipnis' first home run of the season.
Cody Allen recorded the final out in the eighth, and John Axford pitched the ninth for his fourth save.
McAllister retired the first two hitters in the eighth, but was pulled after giving up singles to Alexi Amarista and Everth Cabrera. He received a standing ovation when he walked to the dugout.
Allen got out of the jam by striking out Seth Smith.
Yonder Alonso singled to start the ninth and Jedd Gyorko drew a one-out walk. The runners moved to second and third, but Will Venable struck out and Xavier Nady lined out to right.
Kipnis, who signed a $52.5 million, six-year contract last week, homered off starter Eric Stults with two outs in the sixth.
NOTES: The Indians optioned RHP Vinnie Pestano to Triple-A Columbus before the first game. Pestano allowed three runs in two-thirds of an inning Tuesday and goes to the minors with a 13.50 ERA. ... RHP Chen-Chang Lee was recalled from Columbus to take Pestano's spot. ... Cleveland begins a four-game series in Chicago on Thursday night. ... OF Michael Bourn, who has yet to play this season because of a strained left hamstring, said he hopes to be activated Sunday.