June 27, 2016

Mostly sunny

Huff’s performance almost goes for naught

Alan Robinson

The Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — Jhonny Peralta homered and drove in three runs to support rookie David Huff’s eight shutout innings and the Cleveland Indians halted a six-game losing streak, dodging yet another ninth-inning bullpen collapse to beat the slumping Pittsburgh Pirates 5-4 on Tuesday night.

The Indians, who blew a pair of five-run leads and a seven-run lead during their losing streak, led 5-0 going into the ninth before nearly giving up another big lead. The Pirates scored four times and had the bases loaded before Adam La-Roche, who homered to start the inning, flew out to right field on a 3-2 pitch by Kerry Wood to end the game.

Grady Sizemore returned from a three-week stay on the disabled list to hit a two-run triple during a four-run second inning that included Peralta’s two-run single. Sizemore also made an excellent over-the-shoulder catch of Robinzon Diaz’s drive to the warning track in center field during the fourth.

For one of the few times this season, the Indians had power, starting pitching and defense in the same game, quieting for at least one night the talk that manager Eric Wedge’s job was in jeopardy. The Indians had dropped seven of eight to fall a season-low 13 games below .500 and they came precariously close to an-other bad loss.

Matt Herges replaced Huff and immediately gave up Adam LaRoche’s 10th homer and Brandon Moss’ pinch RBI single. Wood allowed Jack Wilson’s RBI double and rookie Andrew McCutchen’s run-scoring single, which ran McCutchen’s hitting streak to 11 games, before walking Nyjer Morgan and Freddy Sanchez to load the bases.

Despite the comeback, Pittsburgh lost its fifth in a row and sixth in seven games. The Pirates (31-39) are eight games below .500 for the first time this season, one reason the first interleague matchup in Pittsburgh since 2003 be-tween the two rival cities drew only 19,109, less than half PNC Park’s capacity of 38,496.

The Pirates had only one extra-base hit, Wilson’s double in the fifth, among their four hits against Huff (3-2), who struck out two and walked two in the long-est of his nine career starts. His previous high was 7 1/3 innings against St. Louis on June 12.

By contrast, Pirates starter Ian Snell (2-8) — coming off his first victory in 11 starts — couldn’t make it out of a 50-pitch second inning in which he gave up three hits and walked three.

Right fielder Steve Pearce failed to cut off Sizemore’s drive into the right-center gap, allowing it to roll to the wall for a triple and a 2-0 lead. After Snell walked Victor Martinez and Shin-soo Choo, Peralta singled to make it 4-0. Peralta also homered lead-ing off the sixth against Evan Meek, his fourth of the season.

Snell lost his sixth in seven decisions, throwing only 41 of 70 pitches for strikes while yielding four runs and four hits in 2 2/3 innings.

Despite giving up two hits and walking two in one-third of an inning, Wood was credited with his ninth save in 13 opportunities.

Cleveland is 4-9 in interleague play, Pittsburgh is 4-6. The Pirates’ 67-109 record is the worst since interleague play began in 1997.