CLEVELAND - The Indians can't score for Justin Masterson, who gets less run support than any other starter in the AL.
He's found a way to deal with it.
"I've got to make sure no one scores," he said. "That's your job as the pitcher."
The Associated Press
Indians starting pitcher Justin Masterson delivers in the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night at Progressive Field.
Masterson pitched seven effective innings, working out of jams three times, and Cleveland snapped a three-game losing streak with a 2-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.
Masterson (3-6) allowed four hits, struck out nine and ended his own three-game slide. He wriggled out of threats in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings, and got a huge defensive play from second baseman Jason Kipnis in the sixth.
Vinnie Pestano worked the eighth and Chris Perez pitched the ninth for his major league-leading 21st save as the Indians bounced back after being swept in a series at Cincinnati.
Perez, who always seems to make it interesting, gave up a leadoff single before getting a fly ball and game-ending double play.
Carlos Santana hit an RBI double in the third off James McDonald (5-3) and Michael Brantley extended baseball's longest hitting streak this season to 22 games with a run-scoring single in the eighth.
"What streak?" Brantley said, afraid to jinx himself.
The Pirates have lost four straight and were shut out for the sixth time this season.
Masterson hadn't won since May 24, when he beat reigning AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander 2-1. Masterson had dropped his previous three outings despite pitching well in two of them. He lost 2-0 in St. Louis in his last start, when he gave up one run in seven innings.
The right-hander had the Pirates flailing at a wicked slider that slid across the plate and out of the strike zone. During one stretch from the second through fourth innings, he recorded seven consecutive outs with strikeouts.
"He was terrific," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He had the best slider I've seen this year."
For whatever reason, the Indians' offense struggles when Masterson is on the mound. He has received two or fewer runs in eight straight starts and 11 of 14 this season.
"Trust me, the offense is very well aware of that as I'm sure he is too," Kipnis said. "We want to give him all the runs that he deserves. But after that series we just had in Cincinnati, for him to come out and give us that kind of start was tremendous."
TRIBE?SIGNS?TOP?PICKS:?The Cleveland Indians have signed Texas A&M outfielder Tyler Naquin, the club's first-round draft pick.
Naquin, the 15th overall selection, batted .380 for the Aggies last season as a junior with three homers and 49 RBIs in 61 games. The 21-year-old left-handed hitter finished his career with a .348 average and 112 RBIs in 187 games.
The Indians also signed right-hander Mitch Brown, their second-round pick. The 18-year-old from Rochester, Minn., went 7-1 with a 0.91 ERA last season.
Indians scouting director Brad Grant said Naquin will report to Mahoning Valley (Class A), and Brown will join the Indians' rookie team in Arizona.