CINCINNATI -- They didn't gain any ground, but the Cleveland Indians did get a little peace of mind.
If Bartolo Colon keeps pitching like he did Thursday night, the second-place Indians can get headed in the right direction -- making up ground on the Minnesota Twins.
Colon pitched seven shutout innings, giving his best performance since mid-April, as the Indians rolled to a 7-0 victory over the overwhelmed Cincinnati Reds.
"At times, he was just overpowering," said Reds first baseman Sean Casey, who went 0-for-4 and struck out twice. "It seemed like about the third inning, he started to heat up."
The team with the least-productive rotation in the majors needs Colon (7-7) to stay hot for a while.
Cleveland's top starter and best hope for a playoff run had been pedestrian in his last 11 starts, going 2-5 with a 6.01 ERA. He showed signs of emerging in his last start before the All-Star break -- four hits in 72/3 innings against Boston.
Nasty: He was even nastier against the intrastate rival Reds. Colon's fastball started in the low 90s and was topped out at 99 mph in the seventh, when second baseman Robbie Alomar's diving stop snuffed Cincinnati's only rally.
Colon hadn't made a scoreless start since April 18, when he shut out Baltimore for eight innings.
"To start the second half with a good game was real important," Colon said. "It's going to set the tone for the second half."
The Indians sure hope so. They trail Minnesota by five games primarily because their top starters have been injured, inconsistent or both. If Colon can get on a roll, they can get right back in it.
"He's the guy we go to," manager Charlie Manuel said. "He should stop our losing streaks. He's our No. 1."
Rookie Chris Reitsma (4-8) essentially became the Reds' No. 1 starter when manager Bob Boone decided to open the intrastate series with him. He gave up 10 hits and six runs in five innings, one of his worst performances so far.
Solo homers: The Indians got solo homers from Jim Thome and Juan Gonzalez -- the same two players who homered off Reitsma last month at Jacobs Field -- and put the game away with four runs in the fourth.
Travis Fryman had a two-run double and Kenny Lofton singled home two more as the AL's top hitting team rolled.
"Those guys are good," Reitsma said. "They don't have the best batting average for nothing. When you don't have your best stuff, you've got to catch some breaks, and that didn't happen."
The Reds can't seem to catch a break at Cinergy Field, where they can't win or draw a crowd anymore.
The Indians usually bring thousands of fans to pack the stadium, turning it into Jacobs Field South. Only 28,816 turned out Thursday night, by far the smallest crowed for an Indians-Reds game in Cincinnati.
Part of it was the timing -- not many Indians fans made the four-hour trek on a weeknight. Part of it was simply the Reds' lousy play at home.
Cincinnati fell to 11-32 at Cinergy Field and got shut out for the fourth time overall. They nearly scored when Jason LaRue hit a long fly to left in the ninth, but the ball hit the padding atop the wall and deflected back.
Not even the ballpark is giving them a break.
"We didn't do much of anything," somber manager Bob Boone said.