Indians 8, Pirates 5

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PITTSBURGH (AP)—After two extra-long nights that could have sent them in a tailspin, the Cleveland Indians decided the best way to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates was to make sure the game lasted only nine innings.

C.C. Sabathia propped up Cleveland’s weary bullpen with a six-inning start and Matt Lawton drove in two runs to help along a pair of big innings, leading the Indians past the Pirates 8-5 Sunday.

Cleveland shook off consecutive 15-inning losses Friday and Saturday to get 14 hits, 12 in the first six innings. The Indians avoided their second three-game interleague sweep in Pittsburgh in three seasons.

“It didn’t do us a whole lot of good (to worry about the losses),’ said Casey Blake, who had three hits and drove in two runs. “They pay us a lot of money to get prepared to play every day, no matter what happened the previous two nights.”

The Indians led 8-2, then held on despite rookie Carlos Rivera’s run-scoring, pinch-hit double in his first career at-bat and Matt Stairs’ two-run, pinch-hit homer off Jason Boyd.

Boyd pitched two innings before Danys Baez worked a scoreless ninth inning for his 16th save in 20 chances.

“We had a tough three days here … we made a lot of mistakes, but a lot of good things happened, too,” manager Eric Wedge said.

That was Wedge’s brief pregame message to his players: worrying about what happened Friday and Saturday wouldn’t help them win Sunday.

“We had to separate ourselves from yesterday and the day before that,” Wedge said.

Milton Bradley helped the Indians do that by driving in two runs. He had six RBIs in the first series in the Indians’ 102-year history in which they played consecutive 15-inning games.

Sabathia (7-3), aware the bullpen was depleted after pitching 16 innings in two nights, threw 120 pitches while walking four and allowing seven hits. He won for the seventh time in eight decisions despite falling behind 2-0 in the first.

“Most definitely, I knew I had to pitch deep into the game,” Sabathia said. “We needed to get a win here. We had a good road trip (4-2), so we had to get out of here with a win.”

The Pirates, trying for their seventh victory in eight games, took the 2-0 lead on RBI singles by Reggie Sanders and Craig Wilson. But right-hander Ryan Vogelsong (0-1) quickly gave the runs back in his first major league start since 2001.

Vogelsong, who blew out his right elbow in his second Pirates start that season and subsequently needed reconstructive surgery, gave up seven runs and 10 hits in five-plus innings. He has allowed 15 runs and 20 hits in 11 innings in three career Pirates starts.

“I’m very disappointed in myself,” Vogelsong said. “I thought I was prepared to put us in a good position to win. I didn’t do anything close to that.”

Vogelsong was optioned back to Triple-A Nashville after the game so the Pirates could add a reliever. Julian Tavarez began serving a three-game suspension Sunday for his role in a June 14 fight in Tampa Bay and won’t be available again until Wednesday.

The Indians had four consecutive singles to start the comeback second inning against Vogelsong, finished off by Jhonny Peralta’s RBI single. Vogelsong then walked Lawton to force in another run and Blake hit a sacrifice fly.

“That (inning) was so important,” Blake said. “Maybe the game doesn’t turn out the way it did it we don’t get something going in the second.”

Blake doubled and scored on Ben Broussard’s single in the fifth, then hit a sacrifice fly during a four-run sixth that chased Vogelsong. Brandon Phillips doubled to start the inning, and Sabathia helped himself by pushing a bunt single past third baseman Aramis Ramirez that loaded the bases. Bradley later added a two-run single.

Sabathia, who also had a pinch-hit single Friday, noticed that Ramirez charges aggressively on bunts and was deliberately trying to steer the ball by him.

Rivera’s double came on the first pitch he saw in the majors, in the sixth inning against Sabathia. Rivera was called up from Triple-A Nashville after Randall Simon tore ligaments in his right hand Friday night, during the game he ended with a 15th-inning homer.

The Pirates stranded 10 runners, with Kevin Young leaving five on while striking out three times and popping up once.

“We would have traded playing 15 again and winning for playing nine and losing,” shortstop Jack Wilson said. “A sweep would have been very nice, butthey (the Indians) came out and played well after a very long weekend.”

Notes

The Indians are 4-11 in interleague play. … Cleveland had scored only 13 runs in its first five games in PNC Park. … The Pirates finished 5-7 against the AL and are 42-55 since interleague play began in 1997. … The Indians were 0-5 in PNC Park before winning. … The Pirates will replaceVogelsong with another pitcher Monday in Montreal.

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