HOUSTON — Cleveland’s Brett Myers has always been a pitcher who elicits a lot of flyballs.
The problem this season is that too many of those flyballs have been sailing away for home runs.
The trend continued Friday night when J.D. Martinez and Rick Ankiel hit back-to-back homers in the second inning and the Houston Astros held on for a 3-2 win over the Indians.
Myers, the former Astro who was facing Houston for the first time since a trade last summer, allowed five hits and three runs with four strikeouts in five innings. He has given up an MLB-high 10 home runs with an 8.02 ERA in four games with three starts this season.
When asked about the home runs he’s allowed this season, Myers was blunt.
“Well, they (stink) unless we hit them,” he said. “I’ve been a flyball pitcher all my career and have given up homers, but not at this rate. I’ve just got to keep the ball down.”
The win snaps a five-game skid for Houston and extends Cleveland’s losing streak to five.
Houston starter Lucas Harrell (1-2) allowed two runs in 5⅔ innings before three relievers combined to shut out Cleveland the rest of the way.
Closer Jose Veras allowed one hit in the ninth for his first save in two tries.
Carlos Pena walked with one out in the second inning before Martinez got Houston’s first hit by launching a homer into the stands in right field off Myers (0-3) to make it 2-0. Martinez left the game with a sprained knee in the fourth inning.
Ankiel followed with another homer to right field to push the lead to 3-0.
Myers said he’s struggled with tendinitis in the flexor tendon in his throwing hand and that it was bothering him in the first two innings, but improved as the game went on.
“I’ve still got to compete and get people out,” he said. “When I was able to feel the ball after the second inning and finally got a good grip on the ball, I was a little more confident in mixing my pitches.”
Indians manager Terry Francona was encouraged by the way Myers recovered after giving up the two homers.
“His velocity is down, especially tonight, so there was less margin for error,” Francona said. “He gave up the home runs early but sort of buckled down and threw some offspeed pitches pretty effectively.”
Lonnie Chisenhall closed the gap to 3-2 when he connected on a homer that sailed just inside the foul pole in right field in the fourth inning.
Harrell was chased by a single by Mark Reynolds with two outs in the sixth inning, and was none too happy about it. He stalked off the field before throwing his glove, hat and a cup of water when he reached the dugout.
He yielded five hits and two runs with five walks and four strikeouts.
Wesley Wright and Hector Ambriz combined to allow two hits in 2⅓ innings before Veras came on for the save.
The Indians couldn’t string together any hits late in the game as they fell to 0-10 this season when trailing after six innings. Jason Kipnis singled with two outs in the seventh inning before Asdrubal Cabrera struck out swinging to end the inning. The frustration for Cabrera, who is hitting .138, was evident after the strikeout when he angrily threw his bat.
Nick Swisher doubled to start the eighth before Carlos Santana drew a one-out walk. But Reynolds grounded into a double play to end the threat.
The Indians haven’t been able to generate much offense this season and have been held to three runs or fewer in five straight games and 10 of 15 overall.
“We did have opportunities,” Francona said. “I think what happens sometimes is, guys try too hard. We had a couple of chances, and we rolled over. We had opportunities to win that game because of our pitching.”
The teams continue the series today when Cleveland’s Scott Kazmir is expected to come off the disabled list to make his first major league start since April 2011 against Philip Humber. Kazmir, who was on the DL with a rib cage strain, spent last season in the independent Atlantic League with the Sugar Land Skeeters. “The biggest thing is just getting him stretched out again so he can get deep enough into games,” Francona said. “He can pitch and he’s not going to be scared. So we’re excited about it.”
… Kipnis was back in the lineup after missing five games with a sore left elbow.
… Cleveland third base coach Brad Mills made his first trip back to Minute Maid Park since being fired as Houston’s manager in August. He said it was weird to be back as an opposing coach and that he doesn’t have any regrets about his time with the Astros. “(You) try to do the best you can and try to help these guys get better,” he said. “I think that was our goal every day and I think that we did that with the guys that were here. Personally you are rooting for the players individually because you spent so much time with them.”
… Cleveland pitcher Matt Albers was moved from the family medical emergency list to the restricted list, but Francona said he could be activated Monday.
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