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Good things come in threes as Pirates drop Phillies, 6-3

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Philadelphia Phillies Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Threes were the order of the day as the Pirates, following a rain delay of a little under an hour, put up a pair of three-run innings to beat the Phillies, 6-3, capturing their third win in the four-game series. Chad Kuhl benefited from three double plays and Jose Osuna throwing out three runners at second. And three hitters — Andrew McCutchen, Josh Bell and Gregory Polanco — accounted for nine of the Pirates’ 11 hits and all of their runs scored.

Kuhl didn’t have the best control, walking three, but he got eight groundball outs compared to two in the air. Most of the runners he allowed through the first six innings were immediately wiped out by three double play grounders. And Osuna (who, in case you didn’t know, was originally a pitcher) got the rest. With one out in the second, Aaron Altherr lined one hard off the left field wall and went for two, but Osuna threw him out easily. The very next batter, Odubel Herrera, blooped a hit down the left field line and Osuna threw him out at second.

The exception came in the third, when the Phillies scored the game’s first run in bizarre fashion. Andrew Knapp led off with a walk. The next hitter, Andres Blanco, swung and missed on a 1-0 pitch and the bat got away from him, sailing into the stands behind first. At the same time, Elias Diaz tried to pick Knapp off and, possibly because Josh Bell was distracted by the bat, the throw sailed down the right field line, letting Knapp come all the way around to score.

The Pirates spent much of their time against Jeremy Hellickson hitting line drives at people. In the fourth, they finally managed to get a bit more loft. Even better, it came from a pair of young players whom the Pirates desperately need to produce if their offense is ever going to find its way out of the wilderness. Following a McCutchen double, Bell went the other way and deposited his 16th HR in the left field seats, comfortably inside the foul pole. Two batters later, Polanco lined his eighth HR into the right field seats for a 3-1 lead.

The Phillies drew even in the seventh as Kuhl seemed to run out of gas. A one-out single and double put the tying runs in scoring position. Surprisingly (or not given the pitiful state of the Pirates’ bullpen), Clint Hurdle left Kuhl in to face the dangerous Altherr, whom Kuhl had not yet managed to retire (without Osuna’s help). Altherr singled to left-center, tying the game. Remarkably, though, Osuna threw him out once again at second. Kuhl finished the inning, making it the longest outing of his career.

The Pirates got that lead back and then some against Joaquin Benoit in the eighth. With one out, McCutchen doubled for his third hit and Bell rolled a double past first for run number four. An out later, Polanco drove in Bell with a line drive to left, his fourth hit. Polanco took second on the throw home and Elias Diaz drove him in with a double down the left field line, making it 6-3.

The Pirates went with Tony Watson in the eighth and he had a 1-2-3 inning, getting up over 95 mph with his fastball. Juan Nicasio worked a quick ninth, happily saving Felipe Rivero for more dangerous opponents. That ended the game without the Phillies having stranded a single runner.