Ke’Bryan Hayes stayed hot at the plate while Liover Peguero delivered some clutch at-bats, as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Atlanta Braves at PNC Park on Thursday afternoon.
With the victory, the Bucs earned a series-split with the Braves, who entered play occupying the best record in Major League Baseball. This series was about as even as possible, as the two teams scored a total of 50 runs, 25 each, across the four games. Neither team won a game this week by more than two runs.
Bailey Falter started for Pittsburgh, giving up four runs on eight hits in four innings. Thomas Hatch earned the victory by pitching four scoreless innings, while Colin Holderman tallied his second save of the season. Bryce Elder was tagged with the loss, giving up five runs on six hits in five innings.
The Braves steadily built a comfortable lead across the game’s first three innings. Austin Riley singled home a run in the first, Orlando Arcia homered (13) in the second, and Matt Olson crushed his 40th homerun of the season in the third inning. After Marcell Ozuna doubled home a run later in the inning, Atlanta held a 4-0 lead.
A two-run single by Hayes in the bottom of the third cut the Braves’ lead in half at 4-2, and was followed later in the inning by a sacrifice fly by Alfonso Rivas. After initially being called out, Bryan Reynolds was called safe at home after the Pirates challenged the play. The result was a one-run game at 4-3 after three innings.
Peguero’s RBI single in the sixth scored Henry Davis to tie the game, and Jason Delay’s RBI groundout scored Jack Suwinski to give them a 5-4 advantage. A RBI triple by Hayes and a RBI single by Peguero gave the Bucs two insurance runs in the seventh, as the Pirates increased their lead to 7-4.
As it turns out, those runs proved vital. Atlanta made things very interesting in the ninth inning, as they had done multiple times in this series. Ronald Acuna Jr. singled home a run to make it 7-5, which also brought the tying run to the plate. But Holderman held his ground and came up with three straight strikeouts, setting down Ozzie Albies, Riley, and Olson down in order to end the game.
This was a huge victory for the Pirates this afternoon. Following back-to-back heartbreaking losses, this team was able to take the field today and respond. The Bucs went toe-to-toe with the best team in baseball this week, and for a young team still gaining experience every time out, a series like this can do wonders. A series split may not seem like a huge deal, but for this team in this situation, this should give fans some hope and interest going forward.
The Pirates will continue their home stand this weekend when they welcome the Cincinnati Reds to PNC Park for a three-game series, beginning Friday evening. Andrew Abbott will be on the mound for the struggling Reds against Johan Oviedo for Pittsburgh.
Record vs. Braves: 2-2
Record vs. N.L. East: 9-8
Record at Home: 28-30
Overall Record: 52-63
Let’s Go Bucs!