PITTSBURGH (AP) — Christin Stewart’s sped his thinking up and slowed down his feet, helping the Detroit Tigers end a four-game losing streak in the process.
Stewart was on first with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth inning of a tie game on Tuesday night when Brandon Dixon hit a sharp grounder to Pittsburgh second baseman Adam Frazier. Rather than keep on sprinting to second, Stewart hesitated as he neared Frazier. Frazier tried futilely to tag Stewart before throwing to first. Nicholas Castellanos scored from third on the play to give Detroit a 5-4 lead it would hold on to — barely — to win for just fourth time this month.
“Frazier, I tried to pull him toward first base, and when he didn’t turn around and throw to second, I was like, ‘All right, you’re gonna have to tag me,'” Stewart said. “I just broke down so that he wouldn’t tag me. He was running toward me, so I knew that is what he wanted to do.”
Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle thought Frazier had time to flip the ball to shortstop Kevin Newman in hopes of turning a conventional double play.
“There’s a play to be made there and I don’t think (the tag) is the one,” Hurdle said. “Sometimes things happen. You change your mind in the middle of a play.”
Buck Farmer (4-4) earned the win despite giving up Newman’s tying RBI triple in the seventh. Joe Jiménez survived a bases-loaded jam in the eighth. Shane Greene earned his American League-leading 21st save by getting Josh Bell to hit into a game-ending double play as the Tigers snapped a four-game losing streak.
“We have been fighting our tails off all season, and we’ve had some games lately that have been a little bit embarrassing for us,” Greene said. “To come out tonight and fight to the end like that and come out with a W is big time.”
Miguel Cabrera had two hits in his first start at first base since May 31 as Detroit beat the Pirates for just the second time in their last 10 meetings. Detroit’s Daniel Norris put together his best start in nearly a month, giving up only Bell’s home run to center in the second and Jung Ho Kang’s RBI triple in the sixth. Norris struck out four and walked one and was in line to pick up his first victory since May 12 before the bullpen let the lead slip away.
Bell hit his 20th home run for Pittsburgh. Jung Ho Kang hit an RBI triple — his first three-base hit since 2015 — and Colin Moran picked up Pittsburgh’s major-league leading 33rd pinch hit of the season with an RBI single in the seventh, but the Pirates couldn’t overcome a series of miscues while falling to 4-12 in June.
Pittsburgh committed three errors, a number that didn’t include Frazier’s indecisiveness in the eighth. The Pirates also left nine men on base and went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
“You need to play complete games to win at this level,” Hurdle said. “Sometimes it’s harder when you don’t and that’s kind of where we’re at right now.”
Moran’s single and Newman’s shot to the right-field corner that extended his hitting streak to 10 games allowed the Pirates to pull even at 4-4 in the seventh, before Crick ran into trouble in the eighth.
Pirates starter Mitch Keller — who’d been lit up for 12 runs across seven innings in his first two career starts — took a modest step forward in his third. The team’s top-ranked prospect allowed four runs (two earned) in five innings with two walks and six strikeouts. His outing might have been cleaner if not for a sloppy fourth inning, when his throwing error to first on a sacrifice bunt by Harold Castro and Kang’s inability to come up with a sharp grounder by John Hicks allowed the Tigers to take a 4-2 lead.
“Definitely better than the first two,” Keller said. “Felt like I had more command of everything tonight. Just mixing well and limiting damage when there were runners on base. That was huge.”
Pirates: RHP Jordan Lyles (left-hamstring tightness) threw a four-inning simulated game on Tuesday. … C Francisco Cervelli (concussion-like symptoms) is with the team and has begun light baseball activities but remains out indefinitely. .. RHP Chris Stratton (right-side discomfort) was activated off the injured list. To make room for Stratton the Pirates sent reliever Yefry Ramirez back to Triple-A Indianapolis.
Tigers: Expect Jordan Zimmerman (0-4, 5.93 ERA) to make his first start since April 25 after recovering from a strained right elbow.
Pirates: Trevor Williams (2-1, 3.33 ERA) returns from a monthlong stay on the injured list with a strained right side when he makes his 10th start of the season on Wednesday. Williams is 2-0 with a 0.95 ERA in three starts against Detroit.
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