CINCINNATI – With their bullpen struggling again, the Cleveland Indians got swept right out of town.
Xavier Paul singled home a pair of runs in the first inning, and the Cincinnati Reds completed a two-game home sweep with an 8-2 victory on Tuesday night that was free of any up-and-in acrimony.
The intrastate rivals headed to Cleveland for two more games. The Indians lead the all-time series 42-41, but had a rough time in this one.
"It happens," starter Zach McAllister said. "We're in a funk right now."
The Reds have won 14 of their past 17 games overall, leaving them with the second-best record in the majors at 33-19. They trail NL Central-leading St. Louis.
Cleveland has dropped five straight — matching its season high — and seven of eight overall, a slump that's in some ways reminiscent of last season. The Indians were playing well at midseason then, but won only five games in August to fall flat.
Is this starting to feel familiar?
"No, not at all," said McAllister (4-4), who gave up three runs in 5 1-3 innings. "It's a completely different team than last year, a completely different attitude. It's an exciting team."
Mat Latos (5-0) handled a slumping lineup, allowing one run in 6 1-3 innings. The Indians have been outscored 33-14 during their losing streak.
The Reds had 18 hits, one shy of their season high.
Paul's two-run single put the Reds ahead 3-0 in the first against McAllister. The Reds added four in the seventh against Cleveland's bullpen, with Derrick Robinson and Zack Cozart contributing RBI singles.
The bullpen took the loss in the three previous games and let this one get away.
"We go game to game," manager Terry Francona said. "Every game is different. We've had some outings where it's getting away from us and it hurts your chances to win. But I think we have a good bullpen and we'll regroup tomorrow."
There was one lingering issue from Cincinnati's 4-2 win in the series opener: Would the Indians retaliate for Aroldis Chapman's inside pitches?
The Reds closer threw two of them up-and-in to Nick Swisher while closing out the game on Monday, resulting in stares.
Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips and Shin-Soo Choo were hit on Tuesday, but went to first without complaint or warning from plate umpire Chad Fairchild. McAllister hit Phillips in the left side in the fifth inning.
"I was trying to go in there and it just went in a little too far," McAllister said.
The series matching teams from Ohio's north and south has taken on an edge for the second straight year.
Last year, Indians starter Derek Lowe got hit by a Latos pitch and gestured toward Reds manager Dusty Baker. Baker acknowledged that he had Latos pitch inside because Lowe had hit Joey Votto in a game three years earlier.
Choo, who came from Cleveland as part of the offseason trade for Drew Stubbs, homered in the series opener and had another solid all-around game on Tuesday. He ran down two fly balls on the warning track and opened the Reds' first inning with a double.
Cozart followed Choo's double with a bunt single, and Votto singled home a run. Paul's single made it 3-0, matching the most earned runs that McAllister has allowed in a game this season.
Stubbs singled with one out in the fifth — only Cleveland's second hit — and stole second. Michael Bourn singled off Votto's glove at first base, cutting the lead to 3-1.
The Reds failed to score despite getting at least two runners aboard in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings before breaking it open by sending nine batters to the plate in the seventh.
NOTES: Indians closer Chris Perez, who went on the 15-day DL before the start of the series, had an MRI that found mild tendinitis. He won't throw for at least five days. ... SS Asdrubal Cabrera had his seven-game hitting streak snapped. ... McAllister has gone at least five innings and given up no more than three earned runs in his past 12 starts. ... Choo has been hit by a pitch 14 times this season, most in the majors. ... RH Justin Masterson, who has won three of his past four starts, goes for Cleveland on Wednesday against RH Bronson Arroyo, who is 3-0 in his past three starts with a 1.33 ERA.
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