Trevor Williams had an encouraging start, but a bullpen letdown forced the Pirates to come from behind in the ninth before a seven-run tenth inning game them a 12-5 win over the Braves.
Williams was strong for five scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and walking nobody. He even fanned six, reaching back for a pair of strikeouts after a one-out Matt Adams triple in the fourth.
Meanwhile, dispensing with Andrew McCutchen and facing Julio Teheran and his 5.55 xFIP did little to end the Pirates’ offensive woes. Still, they did have Adam Frazier. With Jordy Mercer and Chris Stewart aboard via a single and an error, Frazier ripped his second HR of the season to right for three runs. Frazier even managed a pair of walks off Teheran despite home plate umpire Vic Carapazza gifting the Braves’ starter with a wildly inaccurate strike zone that included parts of South Carolina.
Things came apart for Williams and, once again, the Pirates’ bullpen in the sixth. Williams gave up three singles to start the inning. With one run in, Juan Nicasio came on to get two popups, but he couldn’t get the third out. A single and a double left the Pirates trailing, 4-3, with three of the runs charged to Williams.
White Flag Guy Daniel Hudson held the fort in the seventh. He needed help, though, from a caught stealing, as he gave up two hits and a walk in his one inning. He did close the inning out by fanning the suddenly mortal Adams. Deputy White Flag Guy Johnny Barbato gave the Braves an insurance run in the eighth.
The Pirates had chances in the seventh and eighth but couldn’t solve Ian Krol and his 5.64 xFIP or AAA depth guy Luke Jackson. Two walks in the seventh, including Frazier’s third of the game, produced nothing. Neither did a two-out walk and a pinch-hit single by Francisco Cervelli in the eighth. (Bizarrely, Tyler Glasnow, who suffered a fairly significant ankle injury while running the bases in Altoona, ran for Cervelli.)
In the ninth, the Pirates finally put something together. Gift Ngoepe led off with an infield hit that followed a successful challenge by the Pirates; in fact, the replay showed the play at first wasn’t even that close, another case of the bad umpiring that’s plagued the Pirates in this series. Frazier reached for the fifth time with another single. Harrison hit the ball well but flied out and Bell fanned, but David Freese walked and Jose Osuna singled to drive in two, tying the game 5-5.
Felipe Rivero threw a scoreless ninth and McCutchen, hitting for Rivero, led off the tenth against a struggling Josh Collmenter with a single. Then some massive regression to the mean took place. Either that, or the Pirates finally checked the stat sheet and realized the pitcher they were facing wasn’t very good. After Stewart bunted McCutchen over, Ngoepe doubled in a run. The Braves understandably wanted no part of Frazier, walking him for his sixth time on base, but a wild pitch and a Harrison single brought in two more runs. Bell, who finished 0-for-6 and stranded eight runners, flied out, but Freese blasted his fifth HR to center. Osuna made it back-to-back with his third career HR and then Mercer made it three straight with his fourth of the year. Suddenly it was 12-5 Pirates. Wade LeBlanc — because Jhan Marinez evidently can’t be trusted with a seven-run lead — got the side in order to close it out.