The Pittsburgh Pirates were on their way to their second straight victory over the Atlanta Braves at PNC Park on Tuesday evening. They held a 6-5 lead as their All-Star closer David Bednar came out of the bullpen and to the mound in the ninth inning.
Unfortunately, though, the Braves at other plans. Bednar gave up three runs in the top of the ninth as the Pirates dropped a heartbreaker, 8-6.
It was Bednar’s third blown save of the season, as he saw his ERA rise to 2.08 for the season. Just as frustrating was the performance of starter Mitch Keller, who once again struggled on the bump. He lasted just five innings, giving up three runs on nine hits. His mound opponent, Yonny Chirinos, was not sharp either, giving up six runs on seven hits, including four homeruns, in five innings.
Ronald Acuna Jr. hit his 26th homerun of the season to lead off the game for Atlanta, but Ke’Bryan Hayes answered in the bottom of the inning with a three-run homerun which made it 3-1 Pittsburgh.
After the Braves tied the game in the top of the third on a two-run double by Travis d’Arnaud, the Bucs regained the lead in the bottom of the fourth when Alfonso Rivas hit his second homerun of the season to make it 4-3.
Josh Palacios (4) and Bryan Reynolds (15) hit back-to-back solo homeruns in the bottom of the fifth inning, extending the Bucs’ lead to 6-3. It looked as though the Pirates were well on their way to their second straight win over the league’s best team.
But the Braves didn’t quit and kept pushing forward, scoring two runs in the sixth inning to make it a one-run game. Orlando Arcia hit his 12th homerun of the season, a solo shot to left center field, and later in the inning. Matt Olson drew a bases-loaded walk to score their fifth run.
Bednar ran into trouble again, but unlike previous games recently, he was unable to get himself out of Tuesday night’s jam. Kevin Pillar tied the game with a RBI single to left field, and Arcia doubled home a pair of runs to make it 8-6. The Pirates did make things interesting in the bottom of the ninth, putting two runners on base with two outs, but Jack Suwinski grounded out to end the threat and the game.
This was a horribly disappointing loss for the Pirates. Had they hung on to this victory, this would have been one of those “feel good” moments. They would have taken the first two games in a series against the best team in the league and put themselves in great position to win the series. Instead, they will look to shrug this depressing defeat off when they take the field on Wednesday evening in the third game of this series. Quinn Priester will be on the mound for Pittsburgh against Max Fried for Atlanta.
Record vs. Braves: 1-1
Record vs. N.L. East: 8-7
Record at Home: 27-29
Overall Record: 51-62
Let’s Go Bucs!