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Yankees get back on winning track

Pirates settle for split with baseball’s best

The Associated Press The Yankees’ Josh Donaldson (right) celebrates with Joey Gallo after hitting a solo home run in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

PITTSBURGH — Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks each hit a grand slam, Luis Severino worked six dominant innings and the New York Yankees routed the Pittsburgh Pirates 16-0 on Wednesday night to split their two-game interleague series.

Judge became the first Yankees player to hit 30 home runs before the All-Star break twice in his career when he turned on a pitch from Pittsburgh reliever Manny Banuelos — acquired from New York last weekend — in the eighth and sent it screaming into left-field seats for his third career slam.

Hicks cleared the bases in the ninth when he went deep against Pirates utility infielder Josh VanMeter, who was making his third relief appearance of the season.

Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Donaldson, Joey Gallo and Kyle Higashioka also homered for New York to boost the Yankees’ season total to 139 homers, easily tops in the majors.

Severino (5-3) allowed four hits while striking out three without issuing a walk to pick up his first victory in more than a month. The right-hander retired 12 straight and 18 of the final 20 hitters he faced after giving up a single to Ke’Bryan Hayes and a double to Bryan Reynolds to begin the bottom of the first.

The victory ended a two-game skid for New York, which began the second half of the season with the same recipe that carried the Yankees to the best record in the majors and the second-best start in franchise history through 81 games: dominant starting pitching and plenty of power.

Donaldson and Gallo took Mitch Keller (2-6) deep twice in the span of three pitches in the sixth.

Donaldson’s seventh of the season sailed well into the seats in left field. The buzz from a crowd featuring a healthy number of Yankees fans amped up by the team’s first visit to Pittsburgh since 2017 had barely died down when the struggling Gallo — who got a vote of confidence from manager Aaron Boone before the game — sent a shot to the concourse well beyond the wall in right-center for his 10th of the season to make it 4-0.

Judge’s laser — the ball’s exit velocity was 115 mph — that cleared the bases in the eighth finished off a three-hit performance. DJ LeMahieu singled three times and drove in a pair of runs for the Yankees, who improved to 3-3 on a four-city, 10-game road trip after pounding out a season-high 22 hits.

Reynolds had two of Pittsburgh’s four hits but the Pirates could muster little against Severino and three New York relievers.

Keller worked in and out of trouble over six innings, allowing four runs on a season-high 10 hits with a walk and seven strikeouts. He was long gone by the time New York overwhelmed Pittsburgh’s overtaxed bullpen.

Trainer’s room

Yankees: Held 1B Anthony Rizzo out of the lineup for a second straight game due to back stiffness. Boone said Rizzo was “definitely better” on Wednesday than he was on Tuesday when the 32-year-old was a late scratch because he looked, as Boone put it, “all twisted up.”

Pirates: OF Greg Allen (hamstring) was scheduled to begin a rehabilitation assignment at Class A Bradenton. Allen, claimed off waivers from the Yankees last fall, hasn’t played all season after tweaking his left hamstring during spring training, then injuring his right hamstring during rehab.

On the move

The Yankees reinstated reliever Miguel Castro from the restricted list and designated reliever Ryan Weber for assignment.

Pittsburgh reinstated reliever Yerry De Los Santos from the COVID-19 list. The Pirates optioned reliever Cam Vieaux to Triple-A Indianapolis and designated reliever Austin Brice for assignment.

Up next

Yankees: Head to Boston for the first time this season when they begin a four-game weekend series at Fenway Park on Thursday night. Gerrit Cole (7-2, 2.99 ERA) faces Boston’s Josh Winckowski (3-2, 3.12) in the opener.

Pirates: Play a day-night doubleheader in Cincinnati today. Roansy Contreras (2-2, 4.02) gets the start in Game 1, with Bryse Wilson (1-4, 7.49) going in Game 2.

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