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Ishikawa heats up as Pirates hold off Royals

KANSAS CITY -- Travis Ishikawa, claimed by the Pirates off waivers two weeks ago, slammed two doubles and a home run, and drove in four runs as the Pirates held off late Royals comeback attempts for a 10-7 win on Monday night in front of 38,169 fans at Kauffman Stadium.

Buccos closer Mark Melancon worked around a ninth-inning leadoff walk to record his Majors' leading 30th save of the season and the 100th of his career. It also was Melancon's 28th consecutive conversion.

Video: PIT@KC: Melancon strikes out Perez swinging for save

After the Royals pulled within 8-7 in the seventh, Neil Walker ripped a two-run triple to right in the eighth to keep the Pirates safely in front. A.J. Burnett wobbled through six innings to get the win -- he gave up 11 hits and six runs. That was the most runs Burnett has allowed in a game this season.

"We battled back," Royals manager Ned yost said. "We just couldn't get the lead. We came close a couple of times."

Yordano Ventura made his second start since returning from the disabled list for the Royals, and struggled. He gave up 10 hits and six earned runs in four-plus innings, though he did strike out seven and also got out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the third inning. Mike Moustakas and Kendrys Morales homered for the Royals.

"Our game plan was to get Ventura to throw strikes," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "Guys were looking for one pitch in one spot, and put good swings on them. This guy can be electric; that wasn't going on tonight."

Added Ventura, "Obviously I am not feeling too good about what is going on. I know this club needs me to do what we need to do. I need to keep working to get back to where I need to be."

King Kang: Jung Ho Kang's tenure as the Pirates' de facto regular shortstop got off to a good start with a second-inning single that helped trigger a four-run rally. His double in the fifth led to two more runs. More >

Video: PIT@KC: Kang scores on error in center by Cain

Long balls start the rally back: Morales ripped a Burnett pitch off the right-field foul pole with Eric Hosmer on board in the fifth. That cut the lead to 7-4. Lorenzo Cain had grounded into a double play before Hosmer's at-bat, or the Royals may have had an even bigger inning. Moustakas got things going in a three-run seventh with his ninth homer this season -- that cut the Pirates' lead to 8-7.

Video: PIT@KC: Moustakas hits a solo homer to right field

Medlen's return: On the day he was activated off the disabled list, right-hander Kris Medlen made his first appearance for the Royals in relief, and his first appearance in the big leagues since Sept. 27, 2013. Medlen worked 3 1/3 innings and left trailing 8-7 -- Luke Hochevar came on in relief of Medlen and served up the two-run triple to Walker. Both of those runs were charged to Medlen's line as he gave up four runs but struck out four. More >

Video: PIT@KC: Medlen strikes out Alvarez in Royals' debut

"[Francisco] Cervelli might have had the other save tonight by going out and running down the line and getting in the way of that." -- Hurdle, on Cervelli reacting quickly to get between Burnett and first-base umpire Gerry Davis, who had upset the pitcher by calling him for a balk in the sixth

Video: PIT@KC: Burnett disputes balk call on pickoff attempt

Since Jarrod Dyson returned to first base after triggering the rundown that made the play possible, Alex Rios' fourth-inning steal of home went down as the first clean (not part of a double steal) theft of home against the Bucs since the Astros' Jeff Bagwell pulled it on Aug. 18, 2001. More >

Video: PIT@KC: Rios steals home on pickoff attempt in 4th

The Pirates asked for an umpire review (not a club challenge) of Ishikawa's two-run opposite-field double in the second, feeling the ball may have hit above the homer line of the grandstand before bouncing away from left fielder Dyson. The double call stood.

Video: PIT@KC: Ishikawa ropes a two-run double off the wall

Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli was removed from the game during a pitching change in the bottom of the seventh, with discomfort in his right wrist. He was being treated and further evaluated as the game continued.

"He got a contusion by being hit in the same spot [by pitches] he'd been hit previously. It was just about back to good, and now it's back to what it was," said Hurdle, who couldn't comment on Cervelli's possible availability Tuesday.

Video: PIT@KC: Cervelli leaves with an apparent injury

Pirates: Gerrit Cole makes his first start of the second half on 11 days' rest -- with the exception of his one scoreless inning in last Tuesday's All-Star Game -- in the second game of the Interleague series at 8:10 pm. ET. While it will be Cole's first look at the Royals, he has won seven of eight career decisions versus American League teams, including going 3-0 this season.

Royals: Left-hander Jason Vargas, coming off a left flexor strain injury, is expected to be activated and make Tuesday's start at 7:10 p.m. CT. Vargas will be making his first start since June 8 when he threw six shutout innings in a win against the Twins.

Watch every out-of-market regular season game live on MLB.TV.

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast.
Read More: A.J. Burnett, Mike Moustakas, Kendrys Morales, Yordano Ventura, Neil Walker, Travis Ishikawa