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Judge, Hicks hit slams, Yanks blast Bucs

Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Mitch Keller, center, gets a visit from pitching coach Oscar Marin, left, after giving up back to back home runs during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, July 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Aaron Judge hit a grand slam for his major league-leading 30th home run and the New York Yankees routed the Pittsburgh Pirates 16-0 on Wednesday night to split their two-game interleague series.

Luis Severino pitched six dominant innings and Aaron Hicks also had a grand slam as New York scored 11 runs in the eighth and ninth to turn this one into a laugher.

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

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.

UP NEXT

Pirates: Play a day-night doubleheader in Cincinnati on Thursday. 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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