In what has been a recurring theme for the last month, the Pirates wasted a strong pitching performance with poor hitting and defense Sunday, dropping the rubber match to the Atlanta Braves 5-1.
The Pirates sparked an early rally in the top of the first, with Colin Moran driving in Gregory Polanco on a base hit with two outs. The lead didn’t last long, though, as Ronald Acuna, Jr. ripped Nick Kingham’s second pitch of the game for a game-tying home run.
Kingham settled in after that, allowing just four hits and one run in his five innings of work, striking out four. He got nine whiffs on 28 total changeups and sliders, and Braves’ batters went 0-7 on at-bats ending with either of the two pitches.
He did need some help for the final out of his afternoon, with Jordy Mercer robbing Acuna, Jr. of a potential run scoring single with a diving stop.
Braves’ starter Julio Teheran also allowed just four hits and one run, but he went seven frames.
Steven Brault (5-3) put up scoreless frames in the six and seventh, but he got into trouble in the eighth, with the deciding run coming in on a one out fielding error by second baseman Kevin Newman, scoring Acuna, Jr..
The Braves scored three more runs in the inning on a bloop single by Ozzie Albies, a Dovydas Neverauskas wild pitch and a Dansby Swanson RBI knock.
Braves’ reliever Jonny Venters got the win by retiring one of the two batters he faced (4-1).
Moran went 3-4 with an RBI. Polanco and Jacob Stallings had the other two hits on the afternoon for the Pirates: all singles.
The Pirates are homeward bound, getting ready to open a three game set with the Cincinnati Reds. Trevor Williams (11-9, 3.30) will take the mound against Matt Harvey (6-7, 4.97) at 1:35 p.m..
1. The Pirates have thrown 80 wild pitches this year- the most in the majors.
2. The Pirates have lost their last four series and have gone 1-6-4 in series since the end of their 11 game winning streak.
3. This season, Kingham has a 12.46 R/9, 2.08 WHIP and 6.2 K/9 in the 1st inning this year (13 IP). In every other inning, he has a 3.70 R/9, 1.00 WHIP and 8.5 K/9 (56 IP).