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PIT@CIN: Cueto fans six over 7 2/3 innings in the win

The Indians haven't hit for a particularly high average or with much power, and their pitching staff owns one of the highest ERAs in the Majors this season.

So how are they five games above .500 and heading into Tuesday's series opener in Cincinnati within striking distance of first place in the American League Central? Cleveland manager Manny Acta points to the little things his club does well, especially getting on base and playing strong defense.

The Indians will look to continue their stingy defensive ways behind right-hander Jeanmar Gomez, and they'll be trying to cobble together as many runs as possible against Reds righty Johnny Cueto.

"That's been the key for us to play the baseball we have so far. We have played good defense," Acta said. "If you're not going to out-slug people, you'll have to play good defense. That's huge for us. ... We've been pretty patient as a team this year and that's helped us, with all the walks we've had. That's a big part of our game."

The Tribe has only 29 errors in 59 games, behind only the White Sox, Mariners and Yankees among all Major League clubs. They've also drawn 225 walks on the year, the most in the Majors, to produce a .329 on-base percentage despite a .250 team average.

Opportunities to get on base will be difficult to come by if Cueto pitches the way he did in his last outing, a 7 2/3-inning performance against the Pirates on Wednesday.

Cueto gave up three earned runs on six hits, a walk and a hit batter while striking out six in his longest outing since May 4. The victory, his sixth of the season, also snapped a personal two-game losing streak.

Indians: Gomez looking to get back on track
• Gomez has given up 17 earned runs spanning 15 2/3 innings over his past three outings since posting consecutive quality starts on May 14 and 19. The right-hander gave up six runs on seven hits, including two home runs, without a strikeout against the Tigers on Wednesday, but still picked up the win.

"In a heartbeat, [the Tigers] can put a crooked number on you. Gomez just didn't have it for us," Acta said Wednesday. "They just had their way with him over the last three innings, so our bullpen had to step in."

• Carlos Santana drove in the Indians' first run Sunday with a sacrifice fly, but he is still getting his rhythm back after a stint on the seven-day disabled list due to a concussion sustained May 25. The catcher went 0-for-3 on Sunday, making him 2-for-23 in six games since his return and dropping his average to .225.

Acta pointed to Santana's swing mechanics as part of the reason for his current struggles, as he's kicking his leg too high and moving too much at the plate, but admitted a week off hasn't helped him, either.

"That doesn't mean it's the reason why he's where he's at," Acta said Saturday. "To him, it's going to continue to be a battle, a battle he continues work with his body movement at the plate."

Reds: Votto's streak snapped
• First baseman Joey Votto had his career-high 15-game hitting streak snapped on Sunday with an 0-for-4 night in the Reds' loss to the Tigers.

Votto put up some gaudy numbers during the stretch, hitting .547 with nine doubles, three homers, 10 RBIs and 14 runs scored. He credited the hot streak mostly to mental adjustments and improvements.

"I felt really good lately," Votto said. "A lot of the stuff I was working on earlier in the season, I was having trouble with, I think that I've cleared it up. You're always battling in this game to get back to neutral and in the past stretch I feel like I have been, but you can never explain when you go through these hot stretches, why it happens. But it does and you enjoy it and you continue to work to minimize the valleys and get yourself ready to work."

• Through the first 58 games of the season, the Reds have used just five starting pitchers -- Cueto, Mike Leake, Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey and Mat Latos.

That's the longest such streak for the Reds since 1992 when Jose Rijo, Tom Browing, Tim Belcher, Greg Swindell and Chris Hammond made the Reds' first 79 starts.

Worth noting
• The Indians lead the all-time series against the Reds with a 39-36 record, and they have won six of the last seven and seven of 10. The two Ohio clubs have split 36 meetings in Cincinnati, but the Reds hold a 14-10 edge since Great American Ball Park opened in 2004.

• In each of the last 56 games at Great American Ball Park, there has been at least one home run hit, dating back to a homer-less Reds-Giants game on July 29, 2011. It's the longest active streak in baseball. Comments