PITTSBURGH -- A trio of early runs and another solid start led the Indians to their fifth straight win, a 5-2 victory over the Pirates on a rainy Friday night at PNC Park.
With Brandon Moss and Michael Bourn providing some early run support, right-hander Trevor Bauer picked up where the rest of the Cleveland rotation left off in Tampa Bay earlier this week. Bauer (7-5) retired the first 10 Pirates hitters he faced and held the Bucs to just two runs before rain knocked him out of the game with one out in the seventh inning. Bauer's showing gave Cleveland's rotation a 1.67 ERA over the team's five-game win streak.
"[He was] really good," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Bauer. "Other than [the home run he allowed], he was really good. He worked ahead. The only thing that really got in the way was the weather. He did a good job even managing that because it was getting nasty out there."
Pirates right-hander Charlie Morton hung around for a quality start despite being tagged with his second loss. Reliever Arquimedes Caminero gave up two more runs in the eighth as the Pirates' three-game winning streak came to an end. Pittsburgh couldn't mount a comeback after a two-hour, eight-minute rain delay in the bottom of the seventh, as Indians closer Cody Allen shut the door on the Bucs in the ninth.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Moss mashes: For the second time in three games, Moss went yard -- and this time, it was against his former team. Moss lifted a fly ball over the left-field wall, barely avoiding the outstretched glove of Pirates outfielder Starling Marte. The left-handed power threat played in 195 games for the Pirates from 2008 to 2010.
"He just got enough," Francona said. "You're hoping, because with the weather you're not sure [if it would go out], but he's pretty strong. It looks like he's been trying to get hot. That's good to see."
Walker breaks it up: Bauer recorded 10 straight outs to start the game, and only one Pirates hitter -- Josh Harrison -- managed to get the ball out of the infield. But Neil Walker, coming off a pair of four-hit games, finally got the Bucs on the board with a single to right. That brought up Andrew McCutchen, whose homer to center snapped the shutout.
"I don't know what he was doing to everybody else, but from my standpoint, I had some pretty good at-bats off him," McCutchen said. "You've got to eliminate all that stuff [in his delivery], find his release point and make an adjustment."
Bourn's breakthrough: Although McCutchen homered in the bottom of the frame, Bourn had a crucial RBI double in the top of the fourth, giving the Indians a much-needed third run. After working back to a 2-1 count, Bourn slapped a 92-mph fastball to right field, scoring Moss. In the eighth, Bourn delivered a two-run single with the bags full, overcoming the Tribe's bases-loaded woes of late.
"It felt real good. I just want to battle," Bourn said. "You know how it's been going for me this year. Most of all, we just want to be playing meaningful games in August. That's a big goal. Nobody wants to be playing [meaningless] games in August and September." More >
Bastardo bounces back: After serving up a three-run homer to the Tigers on Thursday, the end of a quietly effective run of relief pitching, lefty Antonio Bastardo returned to the mound Friday night. Bastardo worked around back-to-back walks, one of them to Bauer, and managed to record a scoreless seventh inning.
"I hear it's the most important series of the year. I heard that a couple of times coming in. From some Pirates employees, [saying], 'Great job in Detroit. But you really need to win these games'" -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, on Pittsburgh's attitude toward the Indians of rival city Cleveland
"We go to Baltimore, and we have probably our most defeating series of the year. … Getting the first one in Tampa [Bay on Monday] I think was big. You kind of stop the spiral a little bit, and then we've been playing better. We made some adjustments, and we're doing well now. So, hopefully we can keep on a roll" -- Bauer, on the five-game winning streak
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With his fourth-inning homer, his 10th of the year, McCutchen tied Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski for ninth place on the Pirates' all-time home run list. The blast to center field was the 138th of McCutchen's career. Next up on the franchise leaderboard: Jason Bay, with 139.
The Bucs have scored three runs or fewer in nearly half of their 79 games and have a record of 10-27 under those conditions.
With five more runs on Friday night, Cleveland has scored at least five in five consecutive games. It marks the first time since Sept. 22-29, 2013, that the Indians have scored five or more runs in at least five straight games. In that previous run, the streak lasted seven games.
The Pirates issued an unsuccessful challenge of a sixth-inning-ending double-play call. Walker hit a one-out grounder to Moss at first, and he got the force with a toss to shortstop Francisco Lindor, whose relay to Bauer covering first doubled-up Walker. Hurdle challenged, but a quick review confirmed the call that Bauer's heel was on the bag when he caught throw.
Asked to hit under National League rules, Bauer had a little fun during his plate appearance in the seventh inning. The Indians pitcher imitated the batting stances of Tribe teammates Jason Kipnis (bat held flat behind him), Ryan Raburn (bat on the shoulder) and Mike Aviles (drastic bat waggle) throughout what wound up being a nine-pitch walk.
"Sometimes in the National League, I guess they pinch-hit for the pitcher," Bauer joked. "So, I figured I'd pinch-hit and try to stay in as long as I could." More >
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: Rookie right-hander Cody Anderson (1-0, 0.57 ERA) faced the Rays in each of his first two starts, allowing just one run over 15 2/3 combined innings. For the big righty's third start in the Majors, he will take the mound for Cleveland in a 4:05 p.m. ET Fourth of July tilt against the Pirates on Saturday at PNC Park.
Pirates: Left-hander Jeff Locke (4-4, 4.55 ERA) will get the start in Pittsburgh's Independence Day matchup with Cleveland at 4:05 p.m. ET on Saturday at PNC Park. This is Locke's first time facing the Indians, and Bourn is the only Tribe batter Locke has ever pitched to. Locke is 2-2 with a 3.04 ERA in nine starts at home this season.
Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. John McGonigal is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.