CLEVELAND (AP) — Gerrit Cole was one pitch better than Shane Bieber in a heavyweight matchup of aces as Rougned Odor and Aaron Hicks homered off Cleveland’s Cy Young winner in the fifth inning, giving the New York Yankees a 2-1 win over the Indians on Saturday.
Cole (3-1) struck out 11 and allowed just three hits in seven innings to beat Bieber (2-2) in a rematch of their meeting in last year’s playoffs. Cole’s 50 strikeouts in his first five starts are the most for any pitcher in New York’s storied history.
Bieber fanned nine — the first time he hasn’t reached double digits in five starts — and tied Hall of Famer Randy Johnson’s record with his 17th straight start of at least eight strikeouts.
The 25-year-old right-hander allowed just three hits, but two were homers while throwing a career-high 119 pitches.
After Cole was pulled following his 111th pitch, Justin Wilson got two outs in the eighth. With closer Aroldis Chapman unavailable after pitching three times in four days, Jonathan Loaisiga came on and finished up for his first career save.
New York’s bullpen has pitched 9 1/3 scoreless innings in the series.
The Yankees won their third straight in the four-game series after stumbling into Progressive Field with the AL’s worst record.
Two of baseball’s best, Cole and Bieber traded pitch for pitch, strike for strike and strikeout for strikeout over seven innings.
With the two All-Stars on top of their games, one run might have been enough and the Indians pushed one across in the fourth on Eddie Rosario’s soft RBI single.
Rosario’s hit scored José Ramírez, who tripled and nearly had a home run if not for right fielder Aaron Judge leaping at the wall and knocking his deep drive back onto the field.
Bieber’s slim lead was short-lived.