PITTSBURGH — Oswaldo Cabrera credited Roberto Clemente for helping him hit his first league home run in more than three months.
The 24-year-old New York Yankees outfielder visited the Clemente Museum on Friday with 25-year-old teammate Estevan Florial and Cabrera picked up one of the heavy bats used by the Hall of Famer, who starred for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1955-72,
“I went there yesterday and the guy said like: Hey, if you hold this bat, you’re probably going to get a homer tomorrow,” Cabrera said after hitting his first big league home run since June 3 in the New York Yankees’ 6-3 win on Saturday night. “Oh, man, I can’t describe that. I can’t imagine that that happened today.”
Cabrera hit a drive to right in the eighth against Thomas Hatch for his fifth big league home run this season.
“The bat! The bat!” Florial told Cabrera when he reached the dugout.
After being optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for a pair of brief stints in June, Cabrera was sent to Triple-A from July 23 to Aug. 3. He is batting .278 since his return, raising his season average to .221.
“I’ve been working hard to find that consistency and find that confidence,” Cabrera said. “Right now, I feel so good.”
Giancarlo Stanton hit a solo home run in the third inning for just his second hit in eight games, and Yankees pitchers retired the Pirates’ last 21 batters — 15 by the Yankees bullpen.
New York is 5-1 on a seven-game trip and has won 14 of 19, moving two games ahead of last-place Boston in the AL East. The Yankees (76-73) improved to three games over .500 for the first time since Aug. 12, when they began a nine-game skid. Trying to avoid their first losing season since 1992, they have won five of six series after going 0-8-2 during a stretch that started in late June
“The focus has been there, the preparation,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Even though we’re not in a great spot, we feel like we’re playing for a lot. We want to win. We want to play well.”
Stanton led off the third with his 24th home run this season, a 418-foot solo drive off Luis Ortiz (4-5) into the left-field bleachers that extended the Yankees’ lead to 4-2. The five-time All-Star is 2 for 27 since Sept. 6 and has three hits, each a home run, in 31 at-bats since Sept. 5. He is hitting a career-low .195.
“Looked like a breaking ball down in the zone that he smoked,” Boone said. “To really stick one, especially after they answered with a couple runs, to get that two-run lead back was nice in that spot.”
Luke Weaver gave up three runs and four hits in four innings with seven strikeouts in his first start since being claimed off waivers from the Mariners on Sept. 12. Rookie Jhony Brito (8-7) retired nine straight batters and Ian Hamilton and Clay Holmes three apiece, Holmes for his 21st save in 24 chances.
“I have to give credit to my teammates in the bullpen,” Brito said. “Always asking them questions and just getting advice from them, how to warm up in certain situations, what to do. So just followed their advice and their experience.”
Ortiz allowed four runs, six hits and six walks in 4 2/3 innings. Pirates pitchers walked seven batters, three of whom scored.
“You try your best, and sometimes, it doesn’t go your way,” Ortiz said. “I recognized with some of the hitters that I was trying too hard. Sometimes, when you’re trying too hard, that’s what happens. You try to throw harder and then you fly open.”
Rookie Austin Wells hit an RBI double in the first off the glove of centerfielder Jack Suwinski and, after Ortiz’s third walk of the inning, Estevan Florial lined a single to right.
Bryan Reynolds cut the deficit to 3-2 in the bottom half with his 22nd homer, a two-run drive.
After Stanton’s home run, Endy Rodríguez hit a sacrifice fly in the third.
“We bounced back,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “We got two right off the bat and were able to get back. … Brito came in and he’s got good stuff. There’s a little funk there and it kind of kept us off balance.”
Aaron Judge walked for the third time and scored on a wild pitch
Yankees: LHP Anthony Misiewicz was placed on the seven-day concussion injured list after taking a line drive to the face in the sixth inning of a 7-5 win Friday. Misiewicz was released from Allegheny General Hospital on Friday night, Boone said. … Hamilton (groin) was reinstated from the 15-day IL. … RHP Frankie Montas is expected to pitch one inning in a rehab start for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday. Montas has not pitched this season after having arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder in February.
LHP Carlos Rodón (3-5, 6.14) will start for the Yankees in the series finale Sunday.
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb