CLEVELAND -- Jeanmar Gomez entered this season as the Indians' fifth starter. On Saturday afternoon, he looked more like the team's ace.
Gomez pitched 6 1/3 innings of three-hit, scoreless baseball against the Marlins, helping Cleveland to a 2-0 victory in the second game of a three-game Interleague series at Progressive Field.
Gomez, who struck out four and walked only two against the Marlins, had a rough outing two starts ago against the White Sox. He allowed eight runs in that game on May 9, including six in the fourth inning.
But Gomez didn't panic.
"It was one bad inning," he said. "A couple mistakes up in the zone. But one bad inning can happen to any pitcher. I just forget about that -- the last inning is over."
Ever since then, Gomez has been lights out. He hasn't allowed an earned run in his last 16 innings pitched, and he hasn't given up a run of any kind in the last 10 1/3 innings.
"It's been part of the maturation process," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He's done a terrific job with that part of his game. He doesn't let things get to him anymore. He knows now that he can have one or two bad outings and still be starting. He put that one behind him pretty quick."
While Gomez kept Marlins hitters off balance with his two-seam fastball and sharp slider, he also got plenty of good defense behind him. First baseman Casey Kotchman made two diving stops in the first inning, one on a sharply hit ball by Jose Reyes to lead off the game. The Indians also turned two double plays.
"Casey's defense was the key," Acta said. "If Reyes gets on there, it's either a double if it gets by him, or he'll steal and then create havoc on the bases. You don't want the leadoff man getting on, especially if it's Reyes."
After Gomez departed, the Cleveland bullpen closed the door on Miami. Relievers Joe Smith, Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez combined to pitch the final 2 2/3 innings without allowing a hit. Perez struck out the side looking on only 10 pitches in the ninth.
Perez said the bullpen wanted to preserve the win for Gomez after it blew a lead during his last start at Minnesota.
"We don't forget that kind of stuff down there in the bullpen," Perez said.
The Indians didn't create much offense against the stingy Anibal Sanchez, but they did just enough. Asdrubal Cabrera got the Indians on the board in the fourth inning with a leadoff home run that towered into the visitor's bullpen down the right-field line. The home run came on an 0-2 fastball from Sanchez, and it was Cabrera's fifth of the season.
"[That's] one of the few times where you'll see Sanchez make a mistake," Acta said. "He missed in the wrong spot there, and Asdrubal made him pay for it. I'm glad he didn't miss it because Sanchez is terrific. He's a hard guy to have a plan for because he throws any pitch in any count at any time."
Cleveland had a chance to do more damage in the inning after Travis Hafner was hit by a pitch and Carlos Santana singled with no outs. But Michael Brantley grounded into a double play and Jose Lopez lined out to let Sanchez off the hook.
The Indians weren't done, though. Unlike the fourth inning, they successfully used a little bit of small ball to add an insurance run in the fifth. Shelley Duncan reached base on an infield single, Shin-Soo Choo moved him to third with a base hit to right, and Jason Kipnis knocked Duncan in with a sacrifice fly to left.
"It was huge," Acta said. "We needed that run bad. You don't want to be one swing away, especially with a young guy pitching."
That would be all the offense Cleveland would get, but on a day when the pitching staff was lights out, it was all the offense the Indians would need. The Marlins had only five baserunners all afternoon.
"We couldn't get anything going," said Miami manager Ozzie Guillen. "We were a little flat. I'm not going to say we were down. But when the pitcher dominates you, and you can't get any runs, it feels that way."
Justin Albers is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.