PITTSBURGH – These days, all it takes is one effective inning to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Carlos Santana reached base four times and hit an RBI double during a four-run seventh to help the Cleveland Indians extend Pittsburgh’s second-longest losing streak in 55 years to 12 games with a 4-3 win Friday night.
Fausto Carmona won his second consecutive start, and Santana capped the only inning in which the Indians scored by driving in Trevor Crowe to put Cleveland up 4-0.
“It’s just like, ‘The seal’s been broken, now we can get going,’” said Crowe, who also had an RBI single. “Especially after it’d taken five or six innings to get there.”
The Pirates have the majors’ longest losing streak this season. The Indians snapped a four-game losing streak that was the longest active one in the American League.
Neil Walker and Garrett Jones each had two hits and Ryan Church had a three-run double for the Pirates, who tied the franchise’s second-longest single-season losing streak since at least 1900.
“Everybody’s … frustrated that this losing is going on,” Church said. “It’s one of those things when you go out and finally get that one and end this streak, then we can move on.”
Pittsburgh, which fell to 0-7 in interleague games, lost 13 straight in 2006 and 14 straight from September 1954-April 1955.
The game between last-place teams from two cities that are rivals in football and only a two-hour drive apart matched the team with the least number of wins in the National League against the one tied for the second-fewest victories in the American League. Nevertheless, it drew a crowd of 28,478 – fourth-largest of the season at PNC Park.
Carmona and Paul Maholm cruised through six shutout innings each, allowing only two hits apiece. But both were forced from the game during the seventh, when all the game’s runs were scored.
Jhonny Peralta led off the top of the inning with a liner high off the 21-foot wall in right, just beating the throw into second for a double.
After one out, Anderson Hernandez and Donald hit consecutive singles to right, the latter scoring Peralta. After Maholm (4-5) struck out Carmona, Crowe and Shin-Soo Choo added RBI singles, ending Maholm’s night. He had two walks and five strikeouts.
Santana then doubled off of Joel Hanrahan, scoring Crowe – but Choo was thrown out at the plate easily.
“I got some ground balls, the defense made some great plays, my curveball was working, my changeup was working,” Maholm said. “In the seventh, I just didn’t make a pitch.”
Nine of the Pirates’ losses during the streak are by one or two runs. They’ve scored more than four in a game only twice in that time.
“Once we scored those four runs, I thought it was over,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “With Fausto throwing the ball as dominant as he’d been and as close as the game had been, I thought, ‘Now that we got a four-run lead, it’s over.’ … But they put some at-bats together and made a run for it.”
Carmona (6-5) – coming off a complete game three-hitter Saturday against Washington – did not record an out in facing four batters in the seventh, leaving after Church’s bases-clearing double to left-center. He had seven strikeouts.
Rafael Perez came on and got rookie Pedro Alvarez to fly out to deep right-center and Ryan Doumit to pop out. Right-hander Frank Herrmann retired Ronny Cedeno on a fly to end the inning.
Chris Perez worked a scoreless eighth, and Kerry Wood pitched a perfect ninth for his fifth save in seven opportunities. Incidentally, it was his first save since June 5 – the previous day the Pirates won a game.
“The biggest thing we need to do is go out there and have a laugher,” Maholm said. “Get a great pitching performance, we score eight runs and it’s easy and guys relax, guys get back in a groove. It’s nobody’s fault. We just have got to get it together and we’ve got to root for each other and have got to make the pitch, got to get the hit, got to go out there and expect to win.”
Pittsburgh has seven losing streaks of six games or more against American League teams since interleague play began in 1997.
* Cleveland designated hitter Travis Hafner was not in the lineup for the first of nine consecutive games in National League parks. He was hit by a pitch as a pinch hitter in the ninth.