CLEVELAND — Brad Hand bounced back from his recent struggles to record his 30th save, Francisco Lindor hit a two-run homer and the Cleveland Indians defeated the Kansas City Royals 4-1 on Friday night.
The All-Star closer, who had blown three consecutive saves, gave up a leadoff single to Alex Gordon in the ninth. Pinch-hitter Cheslor Cuthbert bounced into a double play, extending his hitless streak to 0 for 39, and Bubba Starling grounded out to end the game.
Hand had allowed seven earned runs and 13 hits over five innings in his previous five appearances.
Lindor also gave his team a much-needed boost. The Indians had lost seven of nine, including a 2-5 trip to New York that ended with a three-game sweep to the Mets.
The All-Star shortstop hit his 22nd homer, a blast to right field off Jakob Junis (8-12) to give Cleveland a 4-0 lead. Tyler Naquin also had a two-run single in the inning.
Rookie Zach Plesac (7-4) allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings. The right-hander is 3-0 in three starts against Kansas City this season.
Cleveland split four games with the Yankees and was swept by the Mets. The 2-0 loss Thursday night was called in the eighth inning after two rain delays totaling almost three hours. The Indians’ flight to Cleveland arrived around 4 a.m. Friday.
Plesac took a three-hit shutout into the sixth when Nicky Lopez led off with a single. Plesac retired the next two hitters before Hunter Dozier hit a line drive to center. Oscar Mercado attempted to make a diving catch, but the ball sailed past him and rolled to the wall, giving Dozier an RBI triple.
Junis allowed four runs in four innings and is 1-4 in six starts against Cleveland this season. Lindor is batting .500 (16 for 32) with four homers and 12 RBIs lifetime against the right-hander.
The Royals were in Boston on Thursday to complete a suspended game from Aug. 7. The Red Sox scored in the 10th for a 5-4 win and the completion of the game took 12 minutes.
Yasiel Puig, who had the nickname “Wild Horse” on his uniform as part of the Players’ Weekend, broke an 0-for-15 slump with a first-inning single. He also made a long run to catch Starling’s fly ball in shallow right field in the second.
Pirates 3, Reds 2
PITTSBURGH — Pablo Reyes hit a game-ending RBI single, driving in pinch-runner Joe Musgrove, and Pittsburgh rallied to beat Cincinnati.
Pittsburgh won for just the ninth time in 39 games since the All-Star break by chipping away at Reds closer Raisel Iglesias (2-9).
The Pirates put together three straight singles to start the ninth, the last a flare to shallow center by Adam Frazier that scored pinch-runner Erik Gonzalez. A sacrifice bunt by Jacob Stallings moved Musgrove to third and Reyes sent a drive to the gap in left-center to give Pittsburgh its eighth straight home victory over the Reds.
Felipe Vazquez (4-1) picked up the win by pitching a scoreless top of the ninth.
Cincinnati rookie Aristides Aquino hit his 12th homer of the month and an RBI double in the eighth while going 3 for 4 to boost his batting average to .338.
Aquino’s drive to the first row of seats in center off Mitch Keller leading off the second gave him a dozen homers in 22 games, the fastest player to reach that total in major league history. The 24-year-old Aquino then put Cincinnati in position for its third straight win when he ripped a tiebreaking double to left in the eighth off Keone Kela.
Aquino’s 12 homers since making his 2019 debut on Aug. 1 are two short of the club record for most home runs in a month, trailing the 14 Hall of Famer Frank Robinson hit in August 1962 and Greg Vaughn matched in September 1999.
Keller, Pittsburgh’s top pitching prospect, put together the best start of his young career. The 23-year-old struck out nine in six-plus innings.
Cincinnati starter Anthony DeSclafani was just as solid, permitting one run and five hits in six innings.
Iglesias, however, couldn’t lock down Cincinnati’s first victory in Pittsburgh since June 17, 2018.
Both teams insisted they were ready to move on from their ugly on-field brawl in Cincinnati last month, one that resulted in eight total suspensions spread among six players as well as Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle and Reds counterpart David Bell.
Bell, a vocal critic of the Pirates for what he believes is their penchant for pitching inside a little too aggressively, stressed his club didn’t “have time” to let the feud continue to fester.
“I just feel like it’s not going to happen anymore,” he said.
For a night anyway, Bell was right. When Keller went up and in to Aquino in the sixth, the 6-foot-4 Cincinnati slugger simply leaned back to get out of the way and play continued without incident.
Neither the presence of Reds first baseman Derek Dietrich — who sparked a benches-clearing dustup in Pittsburgh in April after admiring a home run — nor Kela — whose decision to airmail a pitch to Dietrich last month served as the jumping off point for the wild melee in Cincinnati — resulted in anything resembling fireworks.
Dietrich went 0 for 3 in his return from a stint on the injured list due to left shoulder inflammation and missed a chance to face Kela again when Kela left him in the on-deck circle in the top of the eighth.