BALTIMORE — Soon after Trevor Bauer walked to the mound for his third start of the season, it quickly became apparent the right-hander was going to have difficulty taming his fastball.
It was a problem he never resolved.
Bauer didn’t get out of the fifth inning, and the Cleveland Indians had to settle for a split of their four-game series with the Baltimore Orioles after losing 4-2 Sunday.
Bauer (1-2) allowed four runs and six hits in 4¾ innings, the second-shortest of his 11 career starts. He struck out eight, including Nick Markakis and J.J. Hardy twice each, but also walked two and allowed home runs to Manny Machado and Nelson Cruz.
“I thought right from the get-go he was having a tough time commanding his fastball,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He was a lot in deep counts. His stuff was good, but a lot of it was elevated.”
Bauer made no excuses.
“My worst command of the year,” he said. “Felt great. Felt good all day. Just couldn’t throw the fastball where I wanted to.”
Cleveland did all its scoring in the first inning, got only five hits and absorbed its second loss in seven games.
“I think we’re playing good baseball,” Bauer said. “I wish I had given the team more of a chance to win today. At least we kept it close to the end of the game.”
Miguel Gonzalez (3-3) bounced back from a shaky start to hold the Indians to two runs and four hits over six innings. He’s 3-0 in three career starts against Cleveland.
Zach Britton, the third Orioles reliever, worked a perfect ninth to earn his second save.
Back in the lineup after missing two days with a right groin strain, Machado hit an opposite-field drive to right to put Baltimore up 3-2 in the fifth.
“It still bothers me a little bit, but nothing too crazy,” Machado said. “Like I said, feels much better than what it was initially when it first happened. We’re just going to keep treating it and hopefully it will get better.”
One out later, Cruz hit his major league-leading 16th home run on a 3-2 pitch.
“Cruz hit a slider,” Bauer said. “I can’t really throw that one aggressively or I’ll walk him there. He hit it. He’s a good hitter.”
Steve Pearce matched his career high for hits in a game, scored Baltimore’s first run and also had an RBI. He was playing first base for Chris Davis, who was placed on paternity leave before the game.
The Indians used two hits and a walk to load the bases with no outs in the first before Lonnie Chisenhall and Nick Swisher delivered run-scoring fly balls. It was the second sacrifice fly in 241 career games for Chisenhall and Swisher’s fourth this season.
“Battled in the first inning,” Gonzalez said. “Got out of it. It was good after that. I wasn’t worried about it. Made pitches when I needed to.”
Baltimore got a run in the second when Pearce singled, stole second and scored on a bloop single by Jonathan Schoop.
In the third, Pearce hit an RBI single after Cruz doubled with two outs.
- Swisher returned after missing two games with a sore knee. Indians SS Asdrubal Cabrera (leg) missed a third straight start but entered as a pinch hitter in the eighth.
- Cleveland’s Michael Brantley extended his hitting streak to 11 games, and teammate David Murphy snapped a 0-for-15 skid with a fifth-inning single.
- Chisenhall has an RBI in six straight games.
- In addition to placing Davis on paternity leave, Baltimore added C Nick Hundley to the roster, recalled RHP Preston Guilmet from Triple-A Norfolk and optioned INF Steve Lombardozzi to the same minor league club.
WHO: Cleveland vs. Chicago White Sox
TIME: 2:10 p.m.
WHERE: U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago
PITCHERS: Tomlin (3-1, 2.91 ERA) vs. Quintana (2-4, 3.67)
TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM, WMMS 100.7-FM