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Pirates hammer Braves, 9-4, for series split

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MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Atlanta Braves Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates jumped on Bartolo Colon with a five-run second inning, then coasted to a 9-4 win over Atlanta. The win gave them a split of the teams’ four-game series. Ivan Nova pitched into the ninth inning to improve his record to 5-3, and Francisco Cervelli went 4-for-5 to lead the offense.

The Bucs got all the runs they’d need in the second, with the help of some shaky defense by the Braves’ infield. RBI infield singles by Jordy Mercer and Gift Ngoepe started the scoring, then Adam Frazier ripped a no-doubt, three-run bomb to right. The HR was his third, and his second three-run shot in two days. The Pirates added two more in the fifth when Cervelli doubled, Jose Osuna walked, and Mercer doubled to drive them both in. Mercer’s two hits gave him nine in the series.

Nova meanwhile cruised along as he generally does, throwing strikes and getting grounders. He got some help from Josh Harrison, who was playing left. Harrison laid out fully to make a diving catch of a liner by Colon leading off the third. Nova didn’t have any significant trouble until the seventh, when a double and a two-out single broke up his shutout. The Braves got another run in the eighth on another two-out single.

The Pirates got the two runs back in the ninth on a bases-loaded single up the middle by Cervelli. Nova finally ran out of gas in the bottom half, giving up three hits while recording only one out. Jhan Marinez got the last two outs, giving up a hit to let one of Nova’s runners score. Nova finished with four runs allowed on ten hits and a walk, while striking out one. Every non-pitcher in the lineup had a hit except Osuna, with Harrison getting three.

The Pirates head home to face the Mets and Diamondbacks for three games each starting tomorrow.