CLEVELAND — Cleveland relief ace Andrew Miller wore a shocked expression after giving up a tiebreaking home run to Los Angeles pinch-hitter Kike Hernandez in the eighth inning Wednesday night.
Miller was still in a state of disbelief following the Dodgers’ 6-4 win over the Indians.
“Home run never even crossed my mind when he hit it,” he said. “I didn’t think it was even going to threaten the warning track, to be honest with you. I obviously misread the swing.”
Hernandez, batting for Chase Utley, hit a 1-2 pitch that barely cleared the wall in right field. Hernandez pumped his fist as he rounded first base after his homer gave Los Angeles a 3-2 lead.
“You really have to shorten up your swing, and it was basically battle mode,” he said. “He threw me a fastball and I took an emergency swing, and the ball went out.”
Miller (3-2) gave up a tiebreaking home run for the second straight night. The left-hander, who has been virtually unhittable, allowed a leadoff homer to Cody Bellinger in the eighth — the first he gave up this season — that broke a tie in the Dodgers’ 7-5 win Tuesday.
Indians manager Terry Francona understands why people are surprised to see Miller struggle.
“He has been so good, like incredibly good, that when he gives up a run, everybody kind of like ... but he’ll be fine,” Francona said.
Miller was charged with four runs in 2/3 of an inning after throwing 25 pitches Tuesday and the Indians (31-31) dropped to .500 for the first time since April 19.
“We think we’re a better team than this (and) I think I’m a better pitcher than I’ve been the last two nights,” Miller said.
“Kike has had some real good at-bats lately, so for him to be able to get a big hit off Miller — one of the best in baseball — it’s big,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
Josh Fields (3-0) allowed Jose Ramirez’s game-tying home run in the seventh. Kenley Jansen worked the ninth for his 13th save and second of the series as the Dodgers won their sixth straight.
Francona returned to the dugout after being hospitalized for a few hours Tuesday night. He underwent a battery of tests and was released early Wednesday.
Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was in the lineup after appealing his one-game suspension by Major League Baseball for making an obscene gesture to Indians fans on Tuesday night.
Puig, also fined for the incident, was booed in each at-bat and his two strikeouts brought some of the biggest cheers of the night.
Corey Kluber of the Indians gave up four hits and struck out 10 in seven innings but allowed two runs in the second, a rally that consisted of a walk, a double, two infield hits and Chris Taylor’s steal of home that occurred on the back end of a double steal.
Taylor also had a two-run single in the eighth.
Dodgers starter Brandon McCarthy was charged with one run in 5 1/3 innings.
The teams’ bullpen have combined to allow 15 runs through the first two games.
“That’s the beautiful thing about baseball,” Roberts said. “Coming in, I was looking forward to a battle of the bullpens. The way Tito is managing Cleveland, it’s like the postseason. I wouldn’t mind seeing him in October.”
Kluber recorded his 1,000th strikeout and became the fastest pitcher in team history to reach that mark. The right-hander also recorded the 27th double-figure strikeout game of his career.
Dodgers: LHP Julio Urias (left shoulder irritation) was placed on the DL at Triple-A Oklahoma City. He was 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in five starts for Los Angeles.
Indians: 2B Jason Kipnis (neck spasms) was scratched from the lineup and replaced by Erik Gonzalez.
Dodgers: LHP Rich Hill is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA in three road starts this season. He made 63 relief appearances for Cleveland in 2013.
Indians: RHP Josh Tomlin is tied for the major league lead with eight losses to go with three wins.