Corey Kluber bounced back from one of his worst outings in recent years by working seven innings and Carlos Santana celebrated his U.S. citizenship with three hits, leading the Cleveland Indians over the Atlanta Braves 8-4 in the opener of a doubleheader on Saturday.
Kluber (2-2) shook off a rough first inning and allowed four runs and five hits. The right-hander didn’t get out of the third inning in his previous start, when he walked a career-high five and gave up two homers in a no-decision against Kansas City.
Max Moroff homered and had two RBIs for Cleveland, which won its fourth straight.
Greg Allen hit a run-scoring double off starter Julio Teheran (2-2) and the Indians scored six runs in the fifth — all with two outs. Teheran fell to 6-13 in interleague games.
Brian McCann and Matt Joyce connected for back-to-back homers off Kluber in the seventh. The Braves, who have lost four in a row, had just six hits.
It was the first meeting between the teams since 2016, and the series opener was pushed back a day because of rain.
Before the game, the Indians activated All-Star Francisco Lindor, who missed their first 18 games while recovering from a sprained ankle. Lindor was to start at shortstop in Game 2, but the Indians plan to use him as an occasional designated hitter while easing him back.
Kluber settled in after a 28-pitch first and looked much more like the two-time Cy Young Award winner who has anchored Cleveland’s staff for years. He also benefited from the Indians’ biggest inning this season.
With the score tied 2-2 and two outs in the fifth, Teheran needed only to put away Allen, but the speedy center fielder, who came to the plate batting .033, pulled his double into the right-field corner. On his way to first, Allen excitedly pumped a fist before hitting bag and hustling into second as Santana scored.
On Friday, Santana, who was born in the Dominican Republic, took the oath to be an American.
The Indians added five more runs in the inning to give Kluber more than enough cushion.
Moroff, about to lose a starting job with Lindor returning, tied it 2-2 in the fourth with his first AL homer. He came in batting .077 before hitting a 2-2 pitch into the seats beyond the right-field wall. Moroff homered three times in 26 games last season for Pittsburgh, which traded him to Cleveland in November.
Braves: Star LF Ronald Acuna Jr. stayed in after being hit on the left elbow by Kluber in the third. Acuna also slid awkwardly while catching Allen’s sinking liner in the same inning.
Indians: Injured starter Mike Clevinger has elected not to undergo surgery on an upper back strain, a procedure that could sideline him for three months. Manager Terry Francona said the right-hander will undergo another MRI and the results will determine when he can resume throwing.
In the nightcap, Atlanta RHP Touki Toussaint (1-0) was to make his first start of the season against Cleveland’s Trevor Bauer (2-1), who has allowed four or fewer runs in his last 57 starts — the majors’ longest streak since Greg Maddux went 106 (1991-94).