CINCINNATI (AP) -- So this is what happens when a down-in-the-dumps offense faces a down-for-the-count pitching staff.
The hitters win.
Cliff Lee struck out a season-high seven and Grady Sizemore -- one of Cleveland's few dependable hitters these days -- drove in a pair of runs with a triple and a single on Sunday, leading the Indians to a 9-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
The Indians took two of three in the interleague series, giving them a 21-15 advantage since the intrastate rivals started playing in 1997. They'll have a three-game rematch at Jacobs Field on June 24-26.
The series matched the American League's worst offense -- Cleveland was hitting only .237 -- against the National League's worst pitching -- batters were hitting .302 off the Reds' staff. For one weekend, bad hitting beat bad pitching.
"When you get guys on base like that and one hit turns into another, you feed off each other," Sizemore said. "That's something we need to do more of. We don't seem to get that rally going. You need to get two, three or four in an inning and build off that. Hopefully we can take what we did today and keep going."
The Indians put it away with six runs in the ninth, the first five off Danny Graves. The closer was booed off the field and then yelled back at a fan near the dugout and made a gesture with his hand.
"I don't know what he said," said Graves, who has been verbally abused by fans for saying that they shouldn't boo. "It's not an issue. If they want to cuss at me, fine. One thing I said two weeks ago got blown out of proportion, and now it's way out of
Cincinnati has lost 18 of its last 23, falling a season-high 13 games under .500. The Reds haven't won any of their last 11 series -- their longest such slump since Pete Rose's gambling scandal in 1989 -- and haven't even won back-to-back games in more than a month.
"Nothing's coming together," said Reds starter Ramon Ortiz
(1-3), who left in the sixth inning after a grounder deflected off the left side of his face. "We're losing games -- unbelievable. I want to see everybody happy."
The Indians improved to 19-23 but remain 11 games behind the White Sox in the AL Central. Ten of their next 13 games are against division rivals Minnesota and Chicago, providing a chance to make up ground.
"I think it's more important for us to get ourselves going, work off winning this series, look and see what we've done," manager Eric Wedge said. "We've still got a long way to go. We need to be more consistent offensively."
Sizemore, one of only three batters in the Indians' lineup hitting above .260, tripled home a run in the third and scored on Casey Blake's single off Ortiz, who was part of the Reds' failed offseason attempt to upgrade their rotation.
Sizemore also singled home a run in the ninth off Graves, who retired only one of his six batters. Blake had a two-run double and Ben Broussard's RBI single finished Graves, whose ERA rose to 7.36.
"I'm not worried about losing my job or being released," said Graves, the team's career saves leader. "I'm just worried about going out there and trying to do what I've done for eight years. Accountability factor? If I'm not doing what I'm supposed to do, that's their decision."
The Indians also got a solo homer in the sixth by Ryan Ludwick,
a drive that hit high off the foul pole in left field. Ludwick has only nine hits this season, four of them homers.
It was the 64th homer off Cincinnati's pitching staff this season, most in the majors.
Lee (5-2) could relax with what amounted to an outburst by the AL's lowest-scoring offense. The left-hander shut out the Reds on two singles over the first five innings, then gave up a run on Sean Casey's double and Joe Randa's two-out single in the sixth.
Lee, who matched Jake Westbrook for the team lead with 14 wins last season, has been dependable in his last eight starts, going 5-2 with a 3.04 ERA.
In a sign of fans' growing disinterest, the Reds sold only 21,862 tickets for Sunday's game. They drew fewer than 26,000 fans for two of the games against a team that used to be one of their best attractions.Game notes
The Reds will skip struggling starter Paul Wilson for a second straight series. Wilson hasn't pitched since last Monday, a 9-2 loss to the Mets that left him 1-5 with a 7.77 ERA. ... Ludwick jammed his right shoulder into the padded left field wall while trying to make a catch in the bottom of the seventh and left for a pinch-hitter in the eighth because the shoulder was strained. ... Indians third baseman Aaron Boone went 1-for-12 during his Cincinnati homecoming.
- Home Plate Umpire - Brian Onora
- First Base Umpire - Gary Cederstrom
- Second Base Umpire - Bill Welke
- Third Base Umpire - Tim Welke