By STEVE HERRICK Associated Press
CLEVELAND (AP) — Justin Verlander was on top of his game Tuesday night.
Verlander struck out 13 to reach double figures for the third straight start and sixth time this season, leading the Houston Astros over the Cleveland Indians 2-0.
In a matchup of All-Stars, Verlander (14-4) outpitched Shane Bieber and won his fourth consecutive start, tying Washington’s Stephen Strasburg for the major league lead in wins. Verlander allowed two hits in seven innings and walked none for the sixth time in 23 starts this year.
Verlander had been 9-16 with a 5.56 ERA in 28 career starts at Cleveland coming in.
“I exorcized some demons here today,” he said. “I haven’t pitched well in this ballpark, and to do it against a great pitcher in Bieber, that was good.”
He allowed one runner to reach second. Cleveland’s only hits were singles by Roberto Pérez leading off the third and Greg Allen starting the sixth.
Verlander made his 53th career start against the Indians.
“I gather as much information as I can through scouting reports and asking questions, but the more important thing was I had 14 years of instinct to use today,” he said. “I trust my eyes, I trust what I see, and I process all of that when I’m facing a team that I’m very familiar with.”
Indians manager Terry Francona was impressed by the dominating performance.
“If you watched, he had everything — fastball, offspeed, couple varieties of changeup,” he said. “It’s one of those nights where as a manager you’re sitting there and you’re rooting your guys on, but you’re also glad you’re not in the batter’s box.”
Cleveland, the AL wild card leader, struck out 15 times. Will Harris fanned two in a perfect eighth and Roberto Osuna followed with a 1-2-3 ninth for his 24th save in 28 chances.
Houston, the AL West leader, won its third straight. Verlander and Gerrit Cole top the rotation but the Astros have been seeking help for the back end ahead of Wednesday’s trade deadline.
Bieber (10-4) gave up two runs and nine hits in seven innings with eight strikeouts and one walk. He had been 4-0 in six starts since losing at Texas on June 20.
“Biebs pitched terrific,” Francona said. “That lineup gives you no … there’s no breath. They come at you one through nine. Give the kid credit. We’ve seen him do that before.”
Verlander started the July 9 All-Star Game in Cleveland and Bieber was the MVP.
Robinson Chirinos hit a go-ahead homer in the two-run fifth.
Michael Brantley appearing in a regular season game in Cleveland for the first time since signing with Houston in December, had an RBI single in the fifth. Brantley, who played for the Indians from 2009-18, was voted an All-Star starter.
Jose Altuve had three hits and raised his average to .300. Astros outfielder Jake Marisnick began his two-game suspension for a July 7 plate collision with Angels catcher Jonathan Lucroy.
Astros: RHP Brad Peacock (shoulder discomfort) is scheduled for a bullpen session Wednesday. He has been on the IL since June 28.
Indians: RHP Danny Salazar, who hasn’t appeared in a major league game since 2017, is to be activated from the IL to start Thursday. An All-Star team in 2016, Salazar is returning from shoulder surgery last July. He likely will throw 50-60 pitches and then be relieved by RHP Adam Plutko.
RHP Corey Kluber (broken forearm) is scheduled to throw a simulated game against a group of Indians minor leaguers Saturday. He was hit by a line drive May 1. Kluber could begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment if he gets through the simulated game with no issues.
Houston rookie RHP Jose Urquidy (1-0, 4.26) starts Wednesday after going 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA with 15 strikeouts over 13 innings in two starts. Indians rookie RHP Zach Plesac (5-3, 3.10 ERA) is to make his first career appearance against Houston.
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