CLEVELAND — Corey Kluber pitched eight shutout innings and the Cleveland Indians spoiled Stephen Strasburg’s return with a 2-0 win over the Washington Nationals on Sunday.
Kluber (5-4) escaped three big jams to win for the first time in 11 career starts at Progressive Field.
Kluber gave up seven hits, struck out eight and didn’t walk a batter. He wiggled out of trouble in the seventh after the Nationals loaded the bases with no outs.
Strasburg (3-6), activated from the disabled list before the game, held the Indians to one run and one hit in five innings.
Making his first start since May 31 when he strained a muscle in his back, the right-hander struck out four, walked four and threw 82 pitches.
Strasburg had gone 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA over a three-start stretch (three earned runs in 23 innings) before exiting his last appearance after two innings against Atlanta. He was placed on the disabled list six days later but was cleared to return following Thursday’s bullpen session in Colorado.
Carlos Santana’s RBI single with one out in the fourth — the only hit Strasburg allowed — gave Cleveland a 1-0 lead. Jason Kipnis drew a one-out walk, stole second and went to third when catcher Jhonatan Solano’s throw bounced into center field. Santana’s solid single up the middle put the Indians ahead.
Kipnis’ sacrifice fly in the eighth scored Cleveland’s other run.
Vinnie Pestano pitched the ninth for his first save of the season.
Indians first baseman Nick Swisher, in a 6-for-55 skid, didn’t play because of a sore left shoulder.
Kluber escaped jams in the fourth and sixth, which were both set up by errors.
Anthony Rendon led off the fourth with a single, then third baseman John McDonald fielded Ryan Zimmerman’s grounder but threw wide into center field. Kluber regrouped with runners at the corners and struck out Adam LaRoche, Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond.
Denard Span reached on an infield hit and took second on a throwing error by Kipnis at second base in the sixth. Rendon’s single moved Span to third but Zimmerman struck out and LaRoche bounced into a double play.
Werth started the seventh with a bloop double to right. Desmond was hit by a pitch before pinch-hitter Steve Lombardozzi popped up a bunt attempt. Kluber tried to make a diving catch but the ball fell in about halfway between home plate and the mound, loading the bases.
First baseman Mark Reynolds grabbed Solano’s line drive and beat Lombardozzi to the bag for a double play. The inning ended when Roger Bernadina grounded out.
NOTES: Indians RHP Chris Perez (right shoulder strain) made his first rehab appearance for Class A Lake County, pitching one scoreless inning against Great Lakes. The Indians’ closer started the game, allowing two hits while striking out one. … The Nationals optioned LHP Xavier Cedeno to Triple-A Syracuse to make room for Strasburg on the 25-man roster. … Washington wraps up its nine-game road trip with a three-game series in Philadelphia beginning Monday. RHP Dan Haren (4-8) faces LHP John Lannan (0-1), who former Nationals pitcher, in the opener. … The Indians continue their nine-game homestand Monday against Kansas City. RHP Carlos Carrasco (0-2) takes on RHP James Shields (2-6) in the opener of the three-game set.
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