PITTSBURGH -- Finally, the Pittsburgh Pirates got a glimpse of what their rookies are capable of doing, even if it was only a sliver of what they expect soon.
Their fans seemed to most enjoy another seldom-seen sight: an animated manager John Russell.Pedro Alvarez's sacrifice fly in the eighth inning drove in the go-ahead run and the Pirates withstood rookie Carlos Santana's big game to beat the Cleveland Indians 5-3 Sunday.Pittsburgh won its second in as many days in the matchup of last-place Central Division teams after dropping 12 in a row -- one short of the club's modern-era single-season record -- and 18 of 21. The Pirates lost their first seven interleague games before winning 6-4 Saturday.Alvarez is 1 for 16 since being called up Wednesday, but he drove in the decisive run in each of the two victories. His former Triple-A teammate, Brad Lincoln, shook off Santana's two-run homer and RBI double to last six innings in the most effective of his three starts."If we keep going like this, we'll be in games," Russell said of a lineup that includes three rookie regulars and two more in their second full seasons.Cleveland dropped its sixth in seven games despite Santana's two-run home run in the first, RBI double in the third and single. Santana was 5 for 5 in the series until he struck out looking in the seventh. He is batting .393 in his first nine games."I've felt good since the beginning, since being called up," Santana said. "Baseball is baseball no matter what the level, but you just need to show consistency at the big leagues because of the way they locate the pitches."Andrew McCutchen walked to reach base for the seventh time in two games against reliever Jensen Lewis (2-2) in the eighth and Jones singled ahead of Lastings Milledge's sacrifice bunt. Alvarez scored McCutchen with his drive to right and Bobby Crosby singled in Garrett Jones for his third hit."I'm feeling good, I'm feeling comfortable," Alvarez said, despite his .063 batting average. "Any way I can contribute, I want to do it."Octavio Dotel pitched the ninth for his 14th save in 17 opportunities after Brendan Donnelly (3-1) retired three consecutive batters with runners on second and third in the eighth.Austin Kearns singled and Russell Branyan doubled down the right field line to start that inning, with Russell ejected for arguing the ball went foul. Both runners held on Jhonny Peralta's fly ball to midrange center and Anderson Hernandez and Jason Donald grounded out."Once you have second and third with no outs in the eighth inning and you can't push a run across, your chances are not very good," manager Manny Acta said. "Very poor approaches, and we didn't get it done."Russell later acknowledged he was wrong for arguing, but many of the 29,845 spectators gave him a big hand for one of his few demonstrative arguments during his three seasons as manager."I didn't hear it," he said. "I was pretty hot at the time."The Indians' defense was shaky throughout, with third baseman Peralta and pitcher Justin Masterson charged with throwing errors during a two-run first that included rookie Jose Tabata's leadoff single and Jones' RBI single. Masterson shut out Pittsburgh on two singles over the next five innings, striking out seven and walking one."We weren't able to pick up the ball and throw it to first base most of the game," Acta said. "We didn't execute, that's why we lost."That shaky Indians defense resurfaced in the seventh. Ramon Perez was charged with an errant throw on Crosby's bunt before throwing a run-scoring wild pitch that tied it at 3.
The Pirates are 16-19 at PNC Park, where they play only four of 19 games until the All-Star break. ... Russell was ejected for the second time this season and the fourth time with Pittsburgh. ... Lincoln gave up 10 runs in 12 innings in his first two starts. ... Jones has an 11-game hitting streak (17 for 41, .415). ... Cleveland hasn't won a series in Pittsburgh since 1997, the first season of interleague play.