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Pirates nearly blow 10-run lead to Indians, hang on to end losing skid

Pittsburgh Pirates' Gregory Polanco (25) returns to the dugout after hitting a two-run home run off Cleveland Indians pitcher Jean Carlos Mejia, left, during the first inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Friday, June 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

PITTSBURGH — 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.

Indians three-time Silver Slugger-winning third baseman Jose Ramirez left the game after being hit on the left foot 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.

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.

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.

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.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Indians: 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.

UP NEXT

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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