Cleveland, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Corey Kluber turned in a historic performance to put his early-season struggles in the rearview.
Kluber matched a franchise record with 18 strikeouts and allowed just one hit and no walks over eight innings to lead the Cleveland Indians to a 2-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday.
Kluber (1-5) took a hard-luck loss to begin the season, then picked up two straight no-decisions despite limiting his opponents to two runs apiece over his next two starts. The reigning AL Cy Young winner had allowed at least four earned runs in each of his last four outings entering Wednesday as the Indians fell to 0-7 with him on the mound this season.
He got off to a rocky start in this one, plunking Matt Holliday in the elbow with a fastball in the first inning. After that, Kluber turned aside 18 straight batters, 14 via strikeouts. He struck out the side in the third and fourth innings, and took a no-hitter into the seventh before Jhonny Peralta managed a two-out single to center.
Kluber had three strikeouts in the seventh. Then, with his pitch count above 100, he fanned Yadier Molina and Mark Reynolds in the eighth and walked off the field to a rousing ovation from the crowd at Progressive Field.
"You don't strike out that many guys if you're not on top of your game," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. "He made pitches all night long."
He matched Indians legend Bob Feller for most strikeouts in a nine-inning game in franchise history. Feller struck out 18 Tigers in on Oct. 2, 1938.
"Any time that your name gets thrown in with Bob Feller, that's obviously very humbling and a great accomplishment," said Kluber. "But more importantly, we got the win."
Cody Allen replaced Kluber, who threw 74 of his 113 pitches for strikes, and tossed a 1-2-3 ninth inning to pick up his fifth save.
Cleveland gave Kluber all the run support he needed in the first inning. Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana drew walks off John Lackey (2-2) to start the inning, and both runners scored on singles from Brandon Moss and David Murphy.
Lackey gave up five hits and five walks in 5 1/3 innings.
The only other pitcher in MLB history to record at least 18 strikeouts with no walks and one hit was the Chicago Cubs' Kerry Wood on May 6, 1998, against Houston. Wood struck out 20 in that game ... The last pitcher to record 18 strikeouts was Milwaukee's Ben Sheets against the Braves on May 16, 2004 ... Luis Tiant had 19 strikeouts for Cleveland in a 10-inning game against Minnesota on July 3, 1968 ... Holliday, who left the game in the second inning, has reached base in every game this season ... Indians manager Terry Francona was ejected for arguing in the fourth inning ... Moss had three of Cleveland's seven hits, while Santana drew four of its six walks.