CLEVELAND — Alex Cobb looked a lot better than his major league-leading 15 losses.
Cobb pitched a five-hitter for his first complete game in five years, and the Baltimore Orioles snapped Cleveland’s six-game win streak with a 4-2 victory over the Indians on Saturday.
Cobb (4-15) struck out three and walked one in his fourth career complete game. The right-hander threw 100 pitches, 69 for strikes, while going the distance for the first time since Aug. 31, 2013, for Tampa Bay against Oakland.
Cobb, who signed with Baltimore in spring training, lost five straight starts in July and has taken some responsibility for the Orioles having the worst record in baseball.
“It was tough early on in the season dealing with the failures,” he said. “Not only as a team, but me personally and feeling like I really contributed poorly to that first half. You try to pick yourself up and build on some positives.”
Cobb retired his first nine batters. He made his biggest pitch of the game when Melky Cabrera bounced into an inning-ending double play with the tying run on third in the seventh.
The 30-year-old Cobb has allowed three runs or less in each of his last seven starts. He threw seven innings against Tampa Bay and Boston in his previous two outings.
“I don’t want to say I told you so, so I won’t,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter. “But Alex, the split’s been solid for him. He made a lot of big pitches.”
Jonathan Villar hit a three-run homer in the third for Baltimore. Rookie Cedric Mullins hit his first major league home run in the eighth.
Francisco Lindor’s RBI single and Michael Brantley’s sacrifice fly cut the Orioles’ lead to 3-2 in the sixth.
Cleveland right-hander Adam Plutko (4-3) allowed three hits in seven innings. He was called up from Triple-A Columbus to step into the rotation for Trevor Bauer, who is out with a stress fracture in his right leg.
The Orioles jumped in front in the third, taking advantage of a mistake by the Indians. With one out and a runner on first, Mullins pushed a bunt past the mound that was fielded by first baseman Yonder Alonso. He turned to make the throw to first, but no one covered the bag. Mullins beat Jason Kipnis, running from second base, to the bag for the infield hit.
Villar then drove a 3-2 pitch over the wall in right for his third homer since coming over in the July 31 trade that sent infielder Jonathan Schoop to Milwaukee.
Lindor opened the fourth with an infield hit for Cleveland’s first baserunner, but Jose Ramirez bounced into a double play.
Ramirez drew a leadoff in the seventh and took third on Alonso’s one-out single. Cabrera, swinging at the first pitch, then hit a slow roller to the right side that was turned into a quick double play, prompting Cobb to pump his fist as he headed to the dugout.
Indians manager Terry Francona didn’t fault Cabrera for being aggressive.
“You hate to ever tell a hitter to take,” Francona said. “We felt like we were in a great place, but eventually we weren’t.”
The Indians retired Hall of Famer Jim Thome’s No. 25 before the game, drawing a crowd of 35,003 for Cleveland’s eighth sellout of the season.
“That’s such a tough lineup, especially in this ballpark on Jim Thome Day,” Showalter said. “I kept waiting for Thome to come out on deck.”
Mullins homered to right off Neil Ramirez. He received a royal welcome when he reached the dugout.
“It was awesome,” he said. “The seeds getting thrown in my face, I’ve never had that happen before. I think one got me in the eye a little bit. But it was fun to be able to get the first one out of the way.”
LIFE IN THE MAJORS
Plutko is in his sixth stint with the Indians this season. He has gone through the ups and downs of being sent from the big leagues to the minors, and the right-hander believes it has been a learning experience.
“There’s adjustments to be made,” he said. “The pitch I threw to Villar, maybe I get a popup in Triple-A. Here it goes for a home run.”
Baltimore claimed outfielder John Andreoli off waivers from Seattle and assigned him to Triple-A Norfolk. He appeared in three games with the Mariners this season.
Orioles: INF Jhan Marinez (strained right hamstring) will begin a minor league rehab assignment with the Gulf Coast League Orioles on Monday.
Indians: OF Tyler Naquin (right hip surgery) might return in late September. He has progressed to riding a stationary bike and could begin running drills soon.
Orioles RHP Yefry Ramirez (1-4, 5.40 ERA) makes his ninth start and 10th appearance of the season in Sunday’s series finale. RHP Mike Clevinger (8-7, 3.38 ERA) takes the mound for Cleveland.