Polanco Hits First Homer, Pirates Edge Rangers 5-4

Polanco Hits First Homer, Pirates Edge Rangers 5-4

PITTSBURGH (AP) – Gregory Polanco hit his first home run in eight months, and spot starter Steven Brault and six relievers did just enough to help the Pittsburgh Pirates edge the Texas Rangers 5-4 on Tuesday night.

Polanco sent a two-run shot to the first row of seats in right-center off Adrian Sampson (0-2) in the fifth, his first since dislocating his left shoulder in an awkward slide last September. Melky Cabrera added a pinch-hit two-run double off Sampson as the Pirates won for the fifth time in six games.

PITTSBURGH, PA – MAY 07: Gregory Polanco #25 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates his two run home run with Starling Marte #6 during the fifth inning agains the Texas Rangers at PNC Park on May 7, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Brault, filling in for injured Jameson Taillon, gave up two runs in four innings in his first start since April 27, 2018. Michael Feliz (2-0) pitched a scoreless fifth. Felipe Vázquez worked a perfect ninth for his 10th save, including a three-pitch strikeout against Joey Gallo to end it. Gallo touched Vázquez for a 467-foot home run in Texas last week.

Hunter Pence drove in all four runs for Texas, doubling twice and adding his fourth home run. The rest of the Rangers went 2 for 27. Texas stranded eight runners and went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position.

Sampson allowed five runs on seven hits in five innings. The 27-year-old is still in search of his first major league win.

The Pirates have recovered from an eight-game losing streak thanks in part to a return to interleague play, where they’ve thrived since the start of 2013. Pittsburgh is an NL-best 80-48 against the AL over the last five-plus seasons, including a 16-5 mark since the beginning of 2018.

Polanco underwent surgery shortly after mangling his shoulder on Sept. 4. He returned a bit earlier than expected and is still working to rediscover the power that led him to hit a career-high 23 home runs in 2018. He entered Tuesday hitting .250 with one RBI in 10 games but hit the ball hard against Sampson. Polanco singled in his first at-bat – before getting caught stealing at second, though his slide was just fine – and lined out to right in the third. In the fifth, he turned on a pitch from Sampson to put Pittsburgh ahead 5-2.

The Pirates’ bullpen held that lead despite retiring the Rangers in order just once during its five innings of work.

Pence’s two-run double to the wall in the seventh off Tyler Lyons pulled the Rangers within one. Lyons then struck out Roughned Odor to end the threat. Kyle Crick fanned Shin-Soo Choo with the tying run on second to end the eighth.


Pirates: RHP Chris Archer (right thumb inflammation) did some flat-ground work on Tuesday but remains out indefinitely. … RHP Keone Kela sat out his second straight game with right shoulder soreness.


Rangers: Shelby Miller (1-2, 7.99 ERA) has allowed four runs in each of his last five starts heading into Wednesday’s series finale. He took the loss against Pittsburgh last week, surrendering four runs in 3 1/3 innings.

Pirates: Nick Kingham (1-0, 6.39) makes his first start of the season, filling in for Archer. Kingham went 5-7 with a 5.32 ERA in 15 starts as a rookie in 2018.

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