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Taillon, Pirates blank Rays, 4-0

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Jameson Taillon and three relievers shut out the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-0, giving the Pirates a series win.

Taillon didn’t dominate, but he was consistently effective when he needed to be. What he did do was get ground outs, nine of them vs. one fly out. The Rays had some threats. They put two on with two out in the first, but Taillon struck out Tim Beckham. In the second, a leadoff double and an infield hit, with the runner holding, put two on to start the inning, but Josh Harrison (playing third with David Freese resting) alertly turned a grounder into a 5-4 double play, getting the two lead runners. Nothing much happened after that until the sixth, when Taillon got a ground out to end a two-out, two-on threat.

The Pirates had some success against the very tough Chris Archer, but couldn’t fully take advantage. In fact, they got something going in nearly every inning against Archer.

In the first, Harrison and Andrew McCutchen reached on a hit batsman (Harrison’s MLB-leading 17th) and a single, but Josh Bell and John Jaso both struck out. In the third, Adam Frazier, Harrison and McCutchen all singled to bring in a run, McCutchen poking a pitch away over the infield for the RBI, something he might not have done earlier in the year. Bell ended that threat by grounding into a double play.

In the fourth, the Pirates got their second run when Jaso led off with his sixth HR to center. In the fifth, Harrison singled and McCutchen doubled for his third hit with two out, but with second and third Bell lined out. In the sixth, with one out, Gregory Polanco ended a long at-bat by lining a low pitch over the Clemente Wall for his sixth HR.

Taillon’s night came to an end in the seventh. He gave up a double and a walk to start the inning, then came out after a line out. Clint Hurdle went to Tony Watson to face the dangerous left-handed hitter Corey Dickerson, which no doubt led to a lot of anxiety among the faithful, but Watson got a three-pitch strikeout, then got Evan Longoria to pop up on the next pitch. That also finished Taillon’s line, with no runs, seven hits, two walks and four strikeouts over six and a third.

In the bottom of the seventh, with Archer out, the Rays finally couldn’t get around Bell. Harrison got plunked yet again with two out, then McCutchen walked after Harrison stole second. This time Bell grounded a single into right, making it 4-0.

The Pirates went with Juan Nicasio and, in a radical move, Edgar Santana for the last two innings. One single off Santana was all the Rays could muster.