Shane Bieber extends own MLB strikeout record, Indians beat Cubs

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CLEVELAND (AP) — Shane Bieber pitched out of some early trouble before extending his strikeout record and César Hernández hit a two-run homer, sending the Cleveland Indians to a 3-2 win over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night.

Bieber (4-2) struck out eight and has now fanned at least that many in 20 consecutive starts, a major league mark he builds on every time out. The right-hander’s streak was in jeopardy, but he got Nick Martini for strikeout No. 8 in the seventh.

The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner wasn’t as sharp as usual and needed a career-high 121 pitches to go 6 2-3 innings.

James Karinchak finished the seventh for Bieber and worked the eighth. Emmanuel Clase gave up two singles in the ninth, but got Matt Duffy to bounce into a game-ending double play for his seventh save.

Hernández homered in the fifth off Adbert Alzolay (1-3), who matched Bieber for six innings.

José Ramírez added a solo homer for the up-and-down Indians, who have been no-hit twice but won seven of eight.

Cleveland Indians’ Jose Ramirez watches his ball after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Eric Sogard homered for the Cubs, who made Bieber work hard.

With his pitch count climbing in the seventh, Bieber gave up a leadoff walk to Joc Pederson and then won a nine-pitch battle with Martini to increase his record. On the strikeout, Bieber’s 117th pitch, Pederson was thrown out stealing by catcher Austin Hedges.

Hernández’s third homer pushed the Indians ahead 3-2.

With one out, Alzolay hit Andrés Giménez on the right hand with a pitch initially called a foul ball. Indians manager Terry Francona won a replay challenge, and after Giménez stole second, Hernández made Alzolay pay with his shot to right.

Sogard snapped a 1-1 tie in the fifth with his first homer since Aug. 29, when he was with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Bieber got ahead in the count and just missed striking out Sogard with a borderline 2-2 pitch that plate umpire Stu Scheurwater called a ball.

Sogard, who moved from second base to shortstop when starter Javier Báez was scratched from the starting lineup with lower back tightness, then drove a 3-2 pitch that just ducked inside the right-field foul pole.

Bieber’s first pitch was an early sign he might struggle.

Pederson ripped his 94 mph fastball back at the right-hander, who alertly snagged the comebacker, which had an exit velocity of 112 mph.

The Cubs scored once on Bieber in the second and were poised for a big inning. But he wriggled out of a no-out, bases-loaded jam by striking out Ildemaro Vargas and getting Sogard to ground into a double play.

SHOT IN THE ARMS

Francona said by Wednesday the Indians will reach the mandated 85% vaccination threshold, allowing them to ease some of MLB’s protocols for COVID-19.

“You can back off wearing a mask in the dugout,” he said. “Guys can play cards on the plane as long as they have a mask on. They can eat indoors. It’s helpful to guys getting some sense of normalcy back.”

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