Harrison, Polanco power Pirates past Indians, Kluber 7-0
CLEVELAND — Corey Kluber struggled in his return while the Pittsburgh Pirates’ hot streak showed no signs of letting up.
Josh Harrison hit a three-run homer and Gregory Polanco had a two-run triple off Kluber, and the Pirates beat the Cleveland Indians 7-0 in a six-inning, rain-shortened game Monday night for their 10th straight win.
The game was called following three rain delays that totaled 2 hours, 3 minutes. The first pitch was delayed 55 minutes, and a delay of 27 minutes followed in the third inning. The final delay was 41 minutes.
The Pirates have won 10 in a row for the first time since June 26-July 5, 2004.
“This is fun,” Harrison said. “You’ve just got to keep riding it out. We’re getting good pitching, good defense, timely hitting. You win the game a lot of ways, and we’re sticking to it.”
Kluber (12-6), starting for the first time since July 12 because of a sore right knee, was charged with seven runs — three earned — in four innings. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner gave up nine hits, struck out two and threw 72 pitches.
Kluber said the knee wasn’t an issue, but he needs to work through some problems with his delivery and will watch video of his outing for answers.
“It’s one less thing on your plate, so to speak,” he said of the knee. “I feel fine physically. I feel like I can figure out the other things.”
Although the Indians hold a comfortable lead in the AL Central, Kluber’s problems are cause for concern. The right-hander received an injection after his last start and said at that time the knee had bothered him for a few weeks.
The Indians gave him 10 days between starts with help from the All-Star break. Kluber was 10-2 with a 1.99 ERA in his first 14 starts, but is 2-4 with a 5.21 ERA in his last seven.
“His fastball command was not where it usually is,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “That was probably a worry going in. He’s such a creature of habit and his routine was different this time.”
Trevor Williams (8-7) pitched six shutout innings. The right-hander who allowed four hits, was credited with his first career complete game and shutout.
“I was excited as soon as I saw the pitching matchups because you want to outduel an ace,” Williams said. “A matchup with Kluber only happens once every three years — or even every six years.”
Harrison’s three-run homer in the second came after two defensive miscues, including a dropped popup by first baseman Yonder Alonso with two outs. The error made all four runs in the inning unearned. Polanco’s triple capped a three-run fourth.
Harrison played for the first time since July 15 because of a sore hamstring. Starling Marte extended his career-high hitting streak to 16 games with two hits and two RBIs. Corey Dickerson, who had homered in four straight games, was 1 for 3 with a walk.
Colin Moran singled with one out in the second. Josh Bell hit a roller to right side that looked like a sure double-play ball, but second baseman Jason Kipnis couldn’t field it cleanly and settled for a force play.
Alonso and third baseman Jose Ramirez converged on the mound for David Freese’s popup. Alonso got a glove on the ball, but he couldn’t hold on after the two nearly collided. He was charged with an error.
Harrison followed by belting an 0-2 pitch into the left field bleachers. Jordy Mercer doubled, Dickerson walked and Marte singled for a 4-0 lead.
“It all started innocently in that second inning,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “You have to be opportunistic because who knows how that inning goes. Heck, who knows how the game goes if Alonso doesn’t drop that ball.”
Kluber absolved his defense of any blame.
“Those two plays had nothing to do with me hanging an 0-2 breaking ball that cost us three runs,” he said.