October 2, 2014

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Indians: Justin Masterson recovers from shaky start in tie with Reds

GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) — After hitting four home runs to build a comfortable lead, the Cincinnati Reds made four errors and let it slip away.

Xavier Paul and Todd Frazier homered in Cincinnati’s five-run first inning against Cleveland opening-day starter Justin Masterson before the Reds and Indians tied 7-7 in a game called after nine innings Sunday.

Paul connected after singles by Zack Cozart and Joey Votto. Frazier’s shot followed a walk to Jay Bruce. It was the second home run of the spring for both players.

“It was an odd game, really,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “We jumped them early, then didn’t get any more for a while. They jumped us. Then we jumped them again. We made four errors that gave them four extra outs. They hurt. They made a couple errors, too.”

Masterson got through the rocky first and pitched shutout ball from there. He went four innings, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out six. The right-hander whiffed four of his last six batters.

He was able to adjust his delivery on the fly to finish his outing.

“I walked Xavier Paul throwing sliders,” Masterson said, referring to a sequence in the third inning. “I was pulling my pitches. I closed my hips a little bit and sure enough my pitches had more depth to them. I got some quick innings after that.”

First-year manager Terry Francona envisions Masterson playing an important role.

“Masterson has embraced being the leader of this staff,” Francona said.

Reds starter Mat Latos, who struggled early in his previous two starts, retired his first four batters. He gave up an unearned run in the third and two runs in the fourth.

Latos went five innings, yielding six hits and striking out three. Cord Phelps and Chris McGuiness doubled off him in the fourth.

The 25-year-old right-hander, acquired from San Diego in a big trade before last season, is a notoriously slow starter but is working on a change-up that he used to his advantage against Cleveland.

“I felt comfortable in the first inning,” Latos said. “It was like spring training all over again. Everything felt real good today. My curveball felt real good coming out of my hand. The change-up I’ve been working on was good. I’ve had a (poor) change-up my whole career. I’ve been working on it with Mario Soto. I’m starting to get a feel for it. I got a lot of swings and misses and some groundballs.”

Latos was 1-2 with a 5.97 ERA in five April starts last season but went 13-2 the rest of the way.

“There was some pressure when a team trades four players to get you,” he said. “Maybe I should have pitched in the WBC and got April out of the way.”

Chris Heisey and Denis Phipps hit back-to-back home runs off Cody Allen, who was told he will open the season in Cleveland’s bullpen. Heisey’s second spring homer and Phipps’ first gave the Reds a 7-4 lead going into the ninth.

Non-roster player Omir Santos hit a solo home run and minor leaguer Carlos Moncrief added a two-run shot off Reds minor leaguer Daniel Wolford to tie it.

Notes

Reds CF Shin-Soo Choo is getting treatment for back spasms. … Indians catcher Yan Gomes sat out with a tight right hamstring. … Reds 2B Brandon Phillips returned from the World Baseball Classic but was given the day off by Baker. … Indians RHP Chris Perez will throw a bullpen today. He is recovering from a strained right shoulder. “The intensity of this bullpen will be monitored,” Francona said. “After that his side sessions will be normal.” … Indians OF-1B Nick Swisher left camp for personal reasons. … Scott Kazmir pitched in a minor league game against the Texas Rangers. Kazmir, in the mix to be the No. 5 starter for the Indians, pitched five innings. He allowed four runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out five.