The Pirates experimented with Bullpenning Wednesday, but both their “opener” and “feature” pitchers allowed a three run homer en route to a 9-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies.
The first of those homers came off the bat of Daniel Murphy, taking a 2-1 Montana DuRapau fastball to right-center. DuRapau, who was one out away from escaping the first with a zero, wound up being pulled before the end of the inning, forcing Clint Hurdle to go to “featured” pitcher Nick Kingham earlier than expected.
“That’s not the first time we’ve given up three runs in the first inning,” Hurdle said. “...A couple pitches away. He was able to make them in San Diego, didn’t make them here, paid the price.”
Initially it looked like Kingham’s turn out of the bullpen would be beneficial to him, getting soft contact and quick outs early, but two infield singles in the third set the stage for a three run homer for Tony Wolters.
Kingham would be tagged for three more runs before being pulled with two outs in the fifth. He allowed nine hits and walked four in his four innings pitched, striking out three.
“There’s work to be done,” Hurdle said. “We’ve seen better [from Kingham].”
The coaching staff has been working with Kingham on making some front side and arm actin adjustments. Kingham said he felt he was making those adjustments early before falling back to old tendencies.
“Overall, I still feel I threw the ball better than what the scoreboard says,” Kingham said.
The Pirates did get a jolt from Josh Bell when he opened the home half of the second with a 454 blast that hit the Allegheny River on the fly.
Kevin Newman drove in Elias Diaz on a double later that inning to pull the Pirates back to being down 3-2.
Clay Holmes gave the Pirates 10 outs and Michael Feliz pitched a scoreless ninth.
Jon Gray went seven innings, striking out seven with all three of the Pirates’ runs on his ledger. He improves to 4-4 on the year. DuRapau loses his first big league decision.
Jordan Lyles (4-1, 1.97) will try to prevent the sweep Thursday against Antonio Senzatela (3-3, 4.89). First pitch is at 12:35 p.m..
1. Bell is the first player in PNC Park history to hit the Allegheny River on the fly twice. He also accomplished this feat on May 8.
2. Kingham has an 11.93 ERA in four outings this May (14.1 IP, 19 ER).