Pirates rally after Russell's ejection in eighth
Donnelly escapes jam; Alvarez drives in go-ahead run
PITTSBURGH -- No one in the Pirates' clubhouse disputed that there was an extra energy, a palpable buzz as the team came to bat in the bottom of the eighth.
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The Pirates had just watched their typically stoic manager be ejected after an emotion-laced argument. And Brendan Donnelly had only further charged the 29,845 at PNC Park on Sunday by following John Russell's departure with some masterful damage control.
Clearly spurred on by all that had transpired in the eighth, the offense responded with two runs in the bottom half of the frame to propel the Pirates to a 5-3 victory over the Indians.
"These past two days have been a different team," Bobby Crosby said. "We've really played the way we're capable of."
Though the Pirates played a much cleaner game than the Indians through the first seven, momentum didn't entirely shift their way until the eighth. It started when, with a runner on first, Cleveland's Russell Branyan ripped Donnelly's 1-2 pitch down the right-field line.
Garrett Jones unsuccessfully dove after it. First-base umpire Bill Hohn leaped out of the way. And amid it all, Hohn ruled the ball fair. Branyan had hardly jogged safely into second before Russell headed toward Hohn.
"In my opinion, at that point, it happened so fast ... I thought it was tough to be that sure," Russell said.
As the crowd stirred -- obviously feeding off the emotion from a manager who is often criticized for perceived passiveness -- the argument got more heated. Hohn briefly conferred with the rest of the umpiring crew, and the call was upheld.
Russell continued to protest, now with home-plate umpire Paul Emmel, and Emmel wasted little time handing Russell his second ejection of the season. Though Russell later admitted that replays showed the ball did kick up some chalk, his ejection lit a spark.
"It's a big thing for him to show that he cares, and to get out there and really make his presence felt also boosted our confidence and our will to win," starter Brad Lincoln said. "Hats off to him."
"He was passionate about the call," Crosby added, grinning.
Still, as Russell left to an ovation -- "I was pretty hot at the time, so I didn't really pay attention," he said when asked if he heard it -- Donnelly found himself with two runners in scoring position and no outs.
A shallow flyout to center kept them there, and both runners stood still when Anderson Hernandez followed with a groundout.
"Once I got people in those situations, I had to kind of go against some of my strengths and attack with secondary pitches," Donnelly said. "I was trying to get them out with the offspeed stuff. I needed them to put the ball on the ground or get a strikeout at all cost."
Crosby then threw out infielder Jason Donald on a bang-bang play at first to end the threat.
"Phenomenal job," Russell said.
"To get out of that with no runs, tip your cap to that guy," Lincoln said. "That just shows it can be done."
Donnelly's work preserved a 3-3 tie, and the offense wasted no time riding the momentum. McCutchen drew a five-pitch walk to lead off the bottom half of the frame, and Jones singled. Lastings Milledge moved the pair up with a sacrifice bunt.
Pedro Alvarez was up next, and as expected, the Indians summoned a left-hander. Alvarez fell behind, 0-2, on two sliders. Reliever Tony Sipp went back to the pitch again, left it high and Alvarez sent it deep.
He didn't hit it squarely enough to savor his first home run, but the sacrifice fly gave Pittsburgh its first lead of the day.
"I was just trying to get something up and over to the right-field side," Alvarez said. "I wanted to drive something deep."
Two batters later, Crosby pushed across an insurance run with his third hit of the day.
"He's a gamer," said Russell, who has started Crosby in four of the last five games. "He likes to be in situations like that. He came up big today."
Dotel pitched a perfect ninth to seal the victory, which was a second straight for Pittsburgh. The club hadn't had consecutive wins since May 31-June 1 and hadn't won a series since then either.
"We're starting to figure out how to win them now," Russell said. "Hopefully, we can continue that."
Recent callup Brad Lincoln has to wait another five days for another crack at his first win, but there were positives to be taken from his six-inning, 98-pitch effort.
Cleveland rookie catcher Carlos Santana, who had knocked Lincoln around in Triple-A earlier this year, was the right-hander's biggest nemesis. Santana's two-run homer and RBI double accounted for the only runs Lincoln allowed.
"Locating pitches to him is something I've struggled with," Lincoln said. "As both of our careers get deeper, we're going to figure each other out, and hopefully I'll come out on top more times than not."
Battling some fastball command issues, Lincoln scattered eight hits. He walked Shin-Soo Choo twice, and Choo scored after both. Lincoln's effort was also boosted by a critical assist from Milledge, who threw out Hernandez at the plate to complete an inning-ending double play in the fourth.
"He threw the ball well, even after the homer and double by Santana," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He settled down and threw the ball well."
"As he goes out there and continues to relax more, his command will get better," Russell added. "To give us that start, we needed it. He stepped up."
The Pirates took Lincoln off the hook for the loss by taking advantage of some shaky play from the Indians in the seventh. An error and wild pitch led to an unearned run. That was the first run Pittsburgh had scored since McCutchen and Jones had RBIs off Cleveland starter Justin Masterson in the first.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.