But Antone walked No. 7 hitter Bradley Luplow to open the fifth when it was 0-0. He retired the next batter and manager David Bell decided Antone was at the end of his rope.
He brought in much-troubled Michael Lorenzen and he quickly walked No. 9 hitter Oscar Mercado on four pitches, none of which was within the downtown Cleveland zip code.
Cesar Hernandez singled to left to score Luplow. Jose Ramirez grounded into a force play at second for the second out. Reds second baseman Josh VanMeter faked a throw to first base and that split-second was all Mercado needed.
He never hesitated running from second to third and continued home, scoring with a head-first avoidance slide to make it 2-0.
Lorenzen was an angry young man after the inning, stomping around the dugout after failing to keep the Tribe off the scoreboard.
“Clevinger is an excellent pitcher and we knew that going in,” said Bell. “We did have opportunities. We walked five times, had some runners on. But his (Clevinger) stuff is really good and he had a new cutter. He’s good but we have to find ways to score.
“We believe our linep is going to score runs, even though we’ve faced some of the best pitchers the last few nights,” Bell added. “We have a lineup we believe in. We just ran into a couple of outstanding pitchers the last couple of nights. But we do have to find ways to score off of them.”
Antone was charged with one run on two hits, while walking four and striking out four. Twice he escaped trouble when the Reds turned inning-ending double plays.
Antone seemed upset with his starting debut, despite mostly glossy numbers.
“My off-speed pitches were good, but my fastball just wasn’t there, could be better, " he said.
Asked about his body language, which resembled a grizzled veteran rather than a rookie, he said, “It comes with the work, my work ethic, knowing the work I’ve put in and the work people have put in to help me. I know I’ve done all I can to be here, to belong.
“But tonight I walked four, most of them leadoff walks, which is the worst of the worst. I was setting myself up for failure and I was trying to be too cute.” he said.
Bell was impressed with Antone’s debut.
“Great. . .he continues to impress us in every way,” said Bell. “He looks like he has been here for years. To do what he did tonight in his first major league start shows that he is going to be here and be here for a long time.”
Clevinger was in trouble a few times and was erratic around the strike zone, but worked out of any problems. He worked 5 2/3 innings and gave up no runs, two hits, walked five and struck out four.
The Reds put two runners on base in the second inning but Van Meter, still hitless on the season, took a called strike three.
Clevinger walked Freddy Galvis to open the third and Shogo Ayikama doubled off the left field wall, putting runners on second and third with one out. Nick Castellanos popped out and Joey Votto flied to left. That ended the Reds’ only real threat.
For the first time since Bell became manager for last season, he dropped Votto from second in the order to third and moved Castellanos up to second.
Clevinger again walked the leadoff hitter in the fourth, but Jesse Winker, Nick Senzel and Van Meter all made outs.
Cleveinger walked Castellanos to open the sixth, but catcher Sandy Leon picked him off first base, a controversial call that was upheld by the replay center in New York.
That turned out big when Clevinger walked two more in the inning after the pickoff. When Clevinger walked Winker with two outs, putting two on base, relief pitcher Dominic Leone came on to strike out Senzel.
Oliver Perez, pitching in his 18th major league season, pitched a 1-2-3 seventh. Jame Karinchuk gave up a one-out single to Castellanos, extending his hitting streak to all 12 games this season, but Votto hit into a double play.
Closer Brad Hand walked Senzel with two outs in the ninth and Curt Casali represented the potential tying run. He took a called third strike to end it, dropping the Reds to 5-and-7 on the season.
The Reds definitely miss second baseman Mike Moustakas, out with a tweak in his leg, an injury he suffered Tuesday when he left mid-game.
Right now, the Reds have a vast wasteland in the middle of the order. Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker bat back-to-back and they are a combined 8-for-67. Suarez is 4-for-40 and Winker is 4-for-27.