Pirates weather Indians' comeback attempt, snap 10-game skid
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Gregory Polanco hit a two-run homer in a five-run first inning and the Pittsburgh Pirates nearly squandered a 10-run lead in the late innings before hanging on to beat the Cleveland Indians 11-10, snapping a 10-game losing streak.
Ke’Bryan Hayes had a three-run double that highlighted a five-run outburst in the sixth inning, staking the Pirates to an 11-1 lead.
The Indians rallied by scoring six runs in the seventh inning and three runs in the eighth, cutting the deficit to a run.
Cesar Hernandez hit a grand slam off Sam Howard in the seventh inning, pulling the Indians within 11-7. A two-run single by Rene Rivera and a throwing error by center fielder Bryan Reynolds an inning late made it a one-run game.
Richard Rodriguez pitched a scoreless ninth inning, allowing a pair of singles, for his eighth save in 10 chances. He struck out rookie slugger Bobby Bradley with runners on second and third to end the game.
“I think I drank like five bottles of water (in the late innings). I was sweating it out,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “But I always feel comfortable with Richie on the mound in the ninth regardless of a one-run lead, a four-run lead, whatever lead, that he’s going to close it out.”
Indians three-time Silver Slugger-winning third baseman Jose Ramirez left the game with a bruised left foot after being hit by a pitch in the eighth inning.
The Pirates bullpen nearly blew the double-digit lead after starter Chad Kuhl (1-4) allowed one run in six innings.
“It’s nice to have the win attributed to my name, but I just want to have an outing that gives ourselves a chance to win,” Kuhl said. “What it really comes down to is it’s 10 games, so to put an end to (the losing streak) is really a good feeling, even though it wasn’t easy.”
Hernandez finished with three hits and five RBIs as the Indians lost for the second time in eight games. Rivera had three hits and three RBIs, and Eddie Rosario added two hits.
“We ask our guys to always continue to play and that was probably the ultimate example,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Those are hard games to win but we’re one hit away from maybe winning the game. Just keep playing. Sometimes it’s ugly, sometimes we make mistakes but keep playing.”
Reynolds homered for the Pirates and joined Adam Frazier with two hits.
The Pirates jumped on rookie starting pitcher J.C. Mejia (1-2) early with the big first inning. After the first run scored on a groundout, Jacob Stallings hit a two-run double to the wall in right-center and Polanco followed with a drive into the right-field stands.
Polanco had gone 4 for 20 on the Pirates’ just-completed six-game road trip.
“That was nice, especially coming off a rough road trip,” Polanco sad. “I hit that ball in the first inning and I’m like, ‘Oh yeah.’ That felt good.”
Staked to the early lead, Kuhl scattered four hits with four strikeouts and one walk. He was aided by four double plays.
It was Kuhl’s first win since Sept. 24, 2020. He failed to record a victory in his first seven starts this year. In his last outing, Kuhl was tagged for six runs in 3 1/3 innings in a loss at Milwaukee.
Mejia lasted a career-high five innings, giving up six runs and seven hits while striking out three.
Hayes, a rookie, has reached base in 23 consecutive games dating to last September.
Indians: Francona said Ramirez felt fine by the time he got to the clubhouse. … is considered day to day. … RHP Zach Plesac (broken right thumb) and C Roberto Perez (broken right ring finger) are scheduled to be examined Saturday by Pittsburgh hand specialist Dr. Thomas Graham.
Pirates: 1B Colin Moran (back strain) returned to the starting lineup after being limited to one pinch-hitting appearance in a three-game series at Washington.
Indians RHP Cal Quantrill (0-2, 3.11) will start Saturday against Pirates RHP Wil Crowe (0-4, 6.75). Quantrill will be pitching on short rest after allowing one run in four innings Tuesday against Baltimore. Crowe had a career-high eight strikeouts in five innings in his last start, a no-decision against Milwaukee last Sunday.
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