Naylor helps Tribe avert sweep by Pirates
PITTSBURGH — Josh Naylor foiled Pittsburgh’s strategy with an RBI single in the seventh inning, helping the Cleveland Indians beat the Pirates 2-1 Sunday.
Cleveland avoided a three-game sweep by the Pirates, who had lost 10 straight entering the series. The Indians have won seven of 10.
The lefty-swinging Naylor sent the first pitch he saw from left-handed reliever Chasen Shreve to right, driving in Eddie Rosario to break a 1-all tie. Naylor, who had an earlier hit, was batting .189 against lefties and .277 vs. righties.
Naylor thought manager Terry Francona would go with a pinch-hitter.
“I kind of peeked in the dugout and tripped over my own feet because I’m expecting to turn around,” Naylor said. “I’m pretty sure the whole stadium knew they were going to bring in the lefty. I was prepared for it. I was waiting for it. It wasn’t really shocking.”
The hit came after Pirates manager Derek Shelton pulled starter JT Brubaker (4-6) with two out in the seventh. The right-handed Brubaker threw just 76 pitches, gave up three hits and tied his career-high with nine strikeouts.
“It was all about the matchup,” Shelton said. “JT did a heck of a job. He threw the ball extremely well, was extremely efficient.
“We went into that inning, if we had a guy on base and we had the left-hander there, we were going to go to Shreve.”
After forcing Harold Ramirez to ground out for the the second out, Brubaker figured he might have a chance to face Naylor.
“I took a peek out in the bullpen, saw we had Shreve and (Clay) Holmes warming up,” Brubaker said. “Once I saw Shelty come out, I knew it was a situational pull. Try to get that left-on-left matchup. Shreve got that groundball, and it just had some eyes.”
James Karinchak struck out Colin Moran looking, stranding Kevin Newman at second in the ninth for his eighth save. Karinchak allowed a three-run homer by Bryan Reynolds in the seventh inning of a 6-3 loss on Saturday.
The Pirates had runners on first and third and one out in the seventh, but Trevor Stephan got Gregory Polanco to pop out and Adam Frazier to fly out.
Brubaker retired the first 13 batters until Ramirez hit a drive into the left-field bleachers to put the Indians up 1-0 with one out in the fifth. Ramirez homered twice Saturday.
“You can tell our guys love (Ramirez),” Francona said. “Brings energy and gives you an honest day’s effort. He’s really been really helpful, so important to our team. We play him everywhere in the outfield. He hits everywhere. He just seems to get his barrel to the ball.”
Jacob Stallings tied it 1-all with a two-out single off Phil Maton (2-0) in the sixth.
Maton struck out the side that inning, but allowed three hits in relief of Sam Hentges, who gave up two hits with four strikeouts in five innings.
It was Hentges’ first start since giving up four runs in 2 1/3 innings against the Toronto Blue Jays on May 30. He had made three relief appearances since.
“We kind of just found a rhythm there in the second and third,” Hentges said. “Rode that out until the end of the fifth.”
Reynolds had the only hit for either team through four innings, doubling off Hentges in the first. Reynolds sent a bloop into right field, where Cesar Hernandez dropped an over-the-shoulder attempt.
“Their starter, he has really good stuff,” Stallings said. “His stuff is really good, so he executed pitches. They threw really good bullpen arms at us. I think it might just have been one of those days.”
Pittsburgh recalled LHP Austin Davis from Triple-A Indianapolis. He pitched the ninth, retiring three batters after allowing a leadoff walk.
Indians: RHP Shane Bieber will be reassessed at some point this week, pitching coach Carl Willis said. Bieber was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right shoulder muscle strain on June 14.
Pirates: LHP Sam Howard went on the 10-day IL retroactive to June 19 with right knee tendinitis.
Indians: RHP Aaron Civale (10-2, 3.48 ERA) will take the mound against the Cubs in Chicago on Monday. Civale allowed five runs, tying his season high, in five innings Wednesday.
Pirates: LHP Tyler Anderson (3-7, 4.89) is expected to start the first of a two-game set against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday. In his last start, Anderson gave up a season-high six runs in six innings Tuesday.