CLEVELAND — The Reds got off to a scorching start at the plate before experiencing a scare in the field.
Manager David Bell was grateful his team survived it.
“We got lucky,” he said.
Rookie Nick Senzel and Joey Votto hit back-to-back home runs to open the game before Senzel and José Peraza walked away unhurt following a violent collision in the outfield as the Reds beat the Cleveland Indians 7-2 on Wednesday.
The quick homers by Senzel and Votto — the first to start a game for Cincinnati since 2001 — off rookie Zach Plesac (1-2) marked the first time an opposing team began with back-to-back homers in Cleveland in 118 years.
It set the tone for the Reds, who earned a split of the two-game series between Ohio’s teams and snapped an eight-game losing streak in interleague play.
Eugenio Suárez and Curt Casali also homered for Cincinnati.
Anthony DeSclafani (3-3) made the early run support stand, allowing one run and four hits in 5 2/3 innings to snap a five-start winless streak.
Carlos Santana hit his 14th homer for Cleveland, which concluded a homestand at 5-3.
There were fans still finding their seats when Senzel and Votto jumped on Plesac, who got his first major league win on Friday against the New York Yankees.
Senzel drove Plesac’s fourth pitch onto the pedestrian patio beyond the left-field wall for his fifth homer. The Reds had just wrapped up congratulating him in the dugout when Votto, serving as designated hitter for the fourth time in his career, hit a 3-2 pitch into the right-field stands for his sixth homer.
Those two bangs were followed by another loud one in the bottom of the inning when Senzel and second baseman José Peraza had a frightening crash in center field.
Indians leadoff hitter Francisco Lindor sent a bloop into the outfield that Senzel caught on the run before slamming into a charging Peraza.
Senzel took the worst of the impact as he was struck in the face by Peraza’s elbow. Senzel crumpled to the ground and shortstop José Iglesias waved to the dugout to get his teammate quick medical attention.
Both players avoided serious injury and stayed in the game.
“It happens when you’re trying to get outs,” Senzel said. “I have a better chance coming in on the ball than he does going back. Right off the jump you can’t call it because you don’t know if you can catch it. Then you’re going for it. You call him off. It was just too late.”
As Lindor’s ball got deeper, Bell braced himself.
“That play is always going to be scary because they’re both going after the ball,” Bell said. “They did a pretty good job of avoiding each other — at least where it wasn’t serious, but it could have been. As it turns out they’re both going to be fine.”
Peraza later delivered an RBI double in the fifth to give the Reds a 3-1 lead.
Suarez led off the sixth with 15th homer and the third surrendered by Plesac, who had allowed just two in his previous three starts.
Plesac hung around until the sixth, but the first-inning homers were costly.
“That’s the first time it’s ever happened,” he said. “It’s just, ‘Get back to it and lock back in.’ I battled a full count the next hitter and had to throw, execute a pitch in the zone. I didn’t want to walk him and he was ready and turned on it and got it over the fence. It was a good at-bat. He came ready to swing and then I locked back in after that at-bat.”
The last time the Reds began a game with consecutive homers was on June 26, 2001, when Alex Ochoa and Hall of Famer Barry Larkin connected against St. Louis’ Andy Benes.
Despite a successful homestand, the Indians didn’t gain ground on first-place Minnesota.
“We’re competing,” manager Terry Francona said. “We make some mistakes. But as long as they keep playing and trying to get better, we have to do that. And we will.”
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Reds hitting coach Turner Ward was ejected in the second inning for arguing after Iglesias struck out.
Reds: Votto was replaced in the fifth inning because of mid-back tightness. After the game, Votto, wearing a Toronto Raptors T-shirt, said he doesn’t think he’ll miss any time. Votto was born in Toronto.
Indians: 2B Jason Kipnis missed his second straight game with tightness in his right hip.
Reds: RHP Tyler Mahle (2-6, 4.21 ERA) starts the opener of a three-game series Friday against Texas. He suffered consecutive tough losses last month, when the Reds batted .070 (4 of 57) while being shut out twice.
Indians: Following an off day, Adam Plutko (2-1, 5.19 ERA) will make his first start on the road as Cleveland begins a three-game series at Detroit on Friday.