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Tribe can't dig out of hole left by Ohka

Tribe can't dig out of early hole

CLEVELAND -- Help is on the way for the Indians' rotation, but it didn't arrive soon enough to save the Tribe on Saturday night.

Tomo Ohka, a rotation placeholder called upon when all other options had been exhausted, got roughed up for six runs in four innings. And the Indians' bats, unable to capitalize against an erratic Homer Bailey, never recovered in a 7-3 loss to the Reds in front of 28,646 at Progressive Field.

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Aaron Laffey is set to make his final rehab appearance for Triple-A Columbus on Sunday, and he could be back to take Ohka's spot in the rotation late in the coming week. For now, the Indians had to stick with Ohka, who had turned in two effective starts coming into this game.

Not this time. Ohka got hammered in a four-run second inning that set the tone for the night.

"Tomo battled," manager Eric Wedge said. "He just didn't have the same command we've seen in prior outings."

The Reds' big inning began when Jay Bruce hit a leadoff homer. After a pair of singles from Ryan Hanigan and Paul Janish, Chris Dickerson and Jerry Hairston Jr. ripped consecutive RBI doubles. The outburst was capped when Dickerson scored from third on a Joey Votto groundout.

Of course, a 4-0 lead, particularly one strung together so early, is anything but insurmountable. And had the Indians taken better advantage of the free passes issued to them by Bailey, they would have made that inning look less significant.

In the bottom of the second, Ryan Garko led off and drew one of Bailey's seven walks in five innings of work. Travis Hafner singled, and Jhonny Peralta walked to load the bases. But Luis Valbuena grounded into a double play that scored a run but killed a rally.

"We created some opportunities -- they gave us some opportunities," Wedge said. "Bailey was effective but erratic. He made pitches when he needed to. We had opportunities, but we were one hit away."

Two Tribe batters walked in the third, and neither scored. In the fourth, Peralta singled and Francisco walked to set up Grady Sizemore's two-run single. But by then, the Reds had manufactured another pair of runs off Ohka, so the score stood at 6-3.

From that point, it was a rather uninspiring affair, aside from Jose Veras' perfect Tribe debut in the ninth. Veras, designated for assignment by the Yankees last week and acquired by the Indians, hadn't pitched in nearly two weeks.

"He had a good fastball, a good breaking ball," Wedge said of Veras. "We wanted to get him in a situation where he could knock some of the edge off, and that's what happened."

Unfortunately for the Indians, their offense looked rusty. They went down quickly and quietly against a trail of Reds relievers, and Cincinnati added an insurance run off left-hander Mike Gosling in the seventh.

The Tribe's 10th loss in 13 games, then, didn't have the style points possessed by some of the defeats that preceded it. There was no late-inning collapse or late rally that came up short.

No, this was just an ineffective start, coupled with an offense that didn't click in the clutch. And it spelled defeat.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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