CINCINNATI — Brayan Pena’s tight hamstring gave Devin Mesoraco a chance to be the star.
Mesoraco homered twice, including his third grand slam of the season, and drove in a career-high six runs as the Cincinnati Reds salvaged the finale of a three-game series against the Miami Marlins with a 7-2 victory on Sunday.
Pena normally catches when Johnny Cueto pitches, but Reds manager Bryan Price determined he wasn’t ready. So Mesoraco was in the lineup on Sunday afternoon after a night game.
“Devin took a foul ball off his arm yesterday but I had the good sense not to ask him about it before I made the lineup,” Price said. “If there is any point in time that you run him out there, it is now when he’s 26.”
Brad Hand walked Todd Frazier with the bases loaded in the fifth to break a 2-all tie. Mesoraco followed with his second of the game and 20th of the season, a 371-foot drive into the left-field seats.
Mesoraco leads all major league catchers in home runs and the National League in grand slams. He is 6 for 7 (.857) with the bases loaded and is the sixth player in Reds history to hit three slams in one season — the first since Chris Sabo in 1993.
“When guys are in scoring position, your focus gets a little better,” Mesoraco said. “I saw that guys weren’t giving into to him (Hand) and I was looking for a pitch that I could hit and not miss it.”
The fifth-inning outburst gave Cueto (14-6) some breathing room. In eight innings, he allowed five hits — two homers — with two walks and nine strikeouts. He improved to 6-0 in his last seven starts.
Mesoraco gave the Reds a 2-1 lead in the first with his first homer in 10 games since July 30, a 390-foot blast that bounced off the roof of the Cincinnati bullpen in left-center with Bruce on first and two outs.
Reds: Right-hander Mat Latos tries to improve his career interleague record to 10-3 in 18 starts on Tuesday in the opener of a two-game home series against Boston.
Reds: Pena’s injury forced him out of Friday’s game after two innings and limited him to a pinch-hit appearance on Saturday.
HOME RUN DERBY DROUGHT
Todd Frazier has not homered in his last 20 games and has just one home run since reaching the finals of the All-Star game Home Run Derby. Frazier has hit .310 in his last 14 games and doesn’t feel the skills competition affected his swing. “If I was struggling I might think that,” Frazier said. “Home runs come in bunches. I might hit three or four in a week. In Double-A in 2010 I went my first 115 at-bats without a home run and ended up with 17.”
Johnny Cueto, nicknamed “Johnny Beisbol” by his teammates, is 9-1 in his last 10 decisions.
Indians 4, Yankees 1
NEW YORK — Carlos Carrasco rejoined the Cleveland rotation in fine fashion by pitching five dominant innings and the Indians nearly tossed another shutout at Yankee Stadium, beating New York Sunday.
Jacoby Ellsbury homered with two outs in the ninth off Indians closer Cody Allen, ending New York’s season-worst scoreless streak at 19 innings.
Jason Kipnis got three hits and scored three runs as the Indians finished 4-3 against New York — only twice in the last 22 years has Cleveland taken the season matchup.
A day after Cleveland pitchers combined on a five-hit shutout and struck out 15 Yankees, Carrasco (4-4) and four relievers threw another five-hitter.
Carrasco allowed just two singles, walked none, struck out four and retired his last 11 batters. Pitching in place of the recently demoted Danny Salazar, Carrasco made his first start since being banished to the bullpen in late April.
Carrasco had gone 0-12 in 17 starts since 2011, and missed the 2012 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He threw from the stretch all game, firing a 96 mph with his first pitch, and met catcher Yan Gomes for hand slaps and back pats outside the dugout after the final out in the fifth.
Cleveland evened its record at 59-59 by taking advantage of a surprisingly shaky Hiroki Kuroda (7-8). Normally one of baseball’s best control pitchers, he walked a season-high four, hit a batter and threw a wild pitch.
Kuroda issued his first bases-loaded walk since he was a major league rookie in 2008, STATS said. Gomes drew that walk for a 3-0 lead in the fifth and added an RBI single in the seventh.
Michael Brantley drove in Cleveland’s first two runs with a single and a sacrifice fly.
Indians: OF David Murphy (oblique) and DH-1B Nick Swisher (knee) went on the 15-day disabled list and OF Tyler Holt and INF-OF Zach Walters were promoted from Triple-A Columbus. Walters, acquired July 31 in the trade that sent shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to Washington, started in left field in his Cleveland debut. Walters went 0 for 3 with a walk.
Indians: In a scheduling quirk, Cleveland gets three off-days in the next eight days. The Indians host Arizona starting Tuesday night, with LHP T.J. House (1-3, 4.13) facing Diamondbacks RHP Josh Collmenter (8-6, 4.09). House has allowed three or fewer runs in seven straight starts.