CLEVELAND — The Indians have clearly run into the Pittsburgh Pirates at the wrong time.
For the second straight night, Cleveland was on the losing end of a rout from the Pirates, who followed up a shutout victory with a lopsided 9-4 win Tuesday at Progressive Field.
Pittsburgh won its 11th straight game, scoring seven times within the first two innings off Shane Bieber to send the Indians to their third straight loss — one shy of matching the longest skid of the season.
“Right now, we’re facing a team that if you make a mistake, they capitalize on everything. And for two games now, that’s what’s happened,” manager Terry Francona said.
It was easily the worst of eight career big league outings for rookie sensation Bieber, who allowed a season-high seven runs on seven hits — including two of Pittsburgh’s three home runs — over only 1 2/3 innings. He entered the night having pitched no fewer than 5 2/3 innings in his previous seven starts.
“Right from the get-go it seemed like he was having trouble commanding his fastball like he has,” Francona said. “Too many of them were not getting either in or where he wanted them.”
“I just wasn’t good enough and didn’t give my team a chance to win,” Bieber said. “I don’t really have a choice. I gotta be better and learn from it, grow from it and be better next time.
“I think a lot of things were an issue. I haven’t had a chance to go and look at the specifics yet, but that’s what (today) is probably for. I’m gonna get in here and go to work.”
Bieber allowed a two-run homer to Starling Marte two batters into the game, then five more runs in the second, as the Pirates broke it open. Marte extended his hitting streak to a career-high 17 games, accounting for the longest streak in the National League this year.
“They’re a good team, they’re a hot team, so they took advantage of mistakes,” Bieber said. “Instead of getting better as the game went on, I got worse as the inning got longer and longer and (my) stuff started to creep up. My stuff started to feel a little bit straighter, a little bit further up in the zone and they made me pay for it.”
It was another slow night for the Indians offense, which scored twice on five hits over seven innings against right-hander Joe Musgrove.
Francisco Lindor started the bottom of the first with his major league-leading eighth double in July and scored on a grounder from Jose Ramirez two batters later.
Cleveland added two runs late — one on a homer from Brandon Guyer in the eighth inning and another on a double in the ninth from Erik Gonzalez, who replaced Lindor once the result was no longer in question.
“He’s a tall kid and kind of leverages his fastball down and then just spins the breaking ball off of it,” Francona said of Musgrove. “(Pittsburgh’s starters) kind of come as advertised. They give up a hit an inning, but they throw strikes and compete and give them a chance to win.”
Cleveland, which entered the game leading the majors in runs and batting average in July, has scored only four runs over its last three games after scoring 25 in the first two games out of the All-Star break.
Lindor’s 34th double accounts for the most by a Cleveland player through 100 games since Albert Belle recorded 35 in 1994.
Ramirez (60) and Lindor (59) have combined for 119 extra-base hits — the most by an Indians duo in 100 games since Hal Trosky (65) and Earl Averill (64) in 1936.
Pittsburgh’s 11-game win streak is its longest since an 11-game streak in 1996.