CLEVELAND -- Progressive Field could have been mistaken for the bandbox feel of Great American Ball Park on Monday night. But no matter the facility, leads proved too disposable for the Reds.
There were three of them, all of them blown by starter Mat Latos in the early innings, before the Indians emerged with a 10-9 victory and snapped the Reds' season-high-tying six-game win streak. Latos took some responsibility for the outcome, but not all. He implied that Cleveland engaged in some sign-stealing.
"I was a little up in the zone," said Latos, who gave up seven runs over four innings. "I thought I made some good pitches that they spit on with a runner on second base. I suppose it was kind of ironic. We changed up the signs, for the last hitter unfortunately. The outcome changed when we changed up the signs today."
Of the eight hits Latos allowed, seven went for extra bases, including three home runs. He blew leads of 1-0, 3-1 and 5-4 in his short outing. But it was a two-run Indians sixth inning off of reliever Sam LeCure that snapped a 7-7 tie and gave Cleveland the lead for good. When it was over, the two teams combined for 27 hits.
There were two outs in the top of the first inning against Indians starter Derek Lowe when Joey Votto gave the Reds a 1-0 lead with a homer that barely cleared the right-field wall. Latos promptly surrendered a leadoff homer by Shin-Soo Choo in the Cleveland first.
"You could tell the way that game started that it would end up 10-9," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "I was just hoping it was in our favor. It was a big offensive night for both clubs."
In his first game back from a five-week stay on the disabled list, Scott Rolen's RBI single to right field and catcher Ryan Hanigan's RBI single put Cincinnati ahead by a 3-1 score in the second inning. The Indians responded with a three-run bottom of the second, including a two-out, two-run homer to right field by the No. 9 hitter, Lonnie Chisenhall.
Latos threw an 0-2 fastball that missed its spot and drifted back over the plate. As Chisenhall circled the bases, Latos took a long walk behind the mound nearly to second base to collect himself. He was fuming as he walked off of the field and yelling into his glove.
The Reds were up by a 5-4 score after the third, when Latos struggled again with two outs in the bottom of the fourth.
"You're hoping he could get it together and go deeper in the game and you don't have to bring everybody from the bullpen," Baker said.
With a runner on second base, Casey Kotchman crushed a 1-0 pitch for a two-run homer to center field, and Chisenhall followed with a triple to the right-field corner and scored on a Choo double to the left-field wall for a 7-5 Indians lead.
"I'm going to go back and look at video," Latos said. "A couple of [times with] runners on second base, they put better swings on the ball than they did most of the time without a runner on second base. Choo hit that double, and then [Asdrubal] Cabrera was up. Me and Hanigan changed the signs up. He called for a slider. We were going with a certain call. That certain call we were going with beforehand was a curveball. I threw a slider, and he was looking breaking ball and was jammed on a slider.
"That, to me, shows me a little something. Other than that, I was up in the zone. I made a couple of bad mistakes, and they hit them."
Latos and Lowe matched up in the two teams' intense meeting on Wednesday in Cincinnati -- a start Latos won in a strong seven-inning performance, during which he buzzed Lowe with a fastball on orders from Baker, which ignited a much-publicized verbal spat between the Reds manager and Indians starter. It's a feud that allegedly dates back to Lowe's final season with the Dodgers in 2008, and one that was brushed aside in Monday's opener.
Unaware of Latos' comments afterward, Indians manager Manny Acta felt like his team took advantage of mistakes.
"He's got good stuff. But today, every time he left a fastball out over the plate, or a breaking ball, our guys put a good swing on it," Acta said.
Lowe also gave up seven runs, with 11 hits, over five innings. It was a wacky play in the fifth that cost him his lead. After Votto led off with a double, Brandon Phillips followed with a liner down the left-field line. Johnny Damon gave chase but stumbled into the wall as the ball rolled between his legs. It enabled Phillips to round the bases and score with a headfirst slide just ahead of a throw to the plate. Ruled an RBI double and an error on Damon, the miscue made it a 7-7 game.
"It would've been interesting if both managers left us in there to have us both go nine innings to see what this game would've turned out to be," Lowe said.
The go-ahead run scored in the Indians' sixth against LeCure on Kotchman's groundout to second base. Chisenhall's RBI single to center field made it a two-run game. A Michael Brantley sacrifice fly in the seventh off of J.J. Hoover proved important as Jay Bruce kept Cincinnati close with a solo homer in the seventh and a two-out RBI single in the ninth against closer Chris Perez.
"Both teams were swinging the bat well," said Phillips, who was 3-for-5. "They just outhit us. I know there were a lot of entertained fans seeing everybody hitting the ball well."