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What a fine mess: Braves 12, Pirates 5

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Steven Brault couldn’t find the strike zone. The bullpen can’t hold a lead. Water is wet.

The Braves only scored one run in the top of the first, as Ronald Acuna walked, went to second on Dansby Swanson’s single and came all the way home after stealing third when catcher Elias Diaz’ throw sailed into left field.

Braves’ rookie sensation Max Fried storde to the mound, and after two quick outs on hard hit balls the hits kept coming - Starling Marte singled; Melky Cabrera homered to left for a 2-1 lead; Elias Diaz singled; Joe Osuna doubled; and finally Cole Tucker to drive in two more as the Pirates went to the second with a 4-1 lead.

Brault gave up another run, but still had a lead when in the bottom of the second it was deja vu all over again - after two outs, Marte doubled, Cabrera singled him in and Diaz chipped in another single. The Bucs were up 5-2.

Brault made in through four innings, with a whopping total 91 pitches of which only 53 were strikes, but despite surrendering five hits and three walks allowed only the two runs.

A walk from Clay Holmes and a single by pinch-hitter Matt Joyce off Richard Rodriguez led to another Atlanta run in the sixth, but it was still 5-3 Pirates.

Kyle Crick entered with a string of 15 consecutive scoreless innings. Freddie Freeman went down swinging, but Josh Donaldson walked on four pitches. Nick Markakis lined to left, Bryan Reynolds coming on for the catch...but he didn’t, as the ball fell out his glove. Then Austin lifted a fly ball at 92.5 mph that settled into the first row of seats over the Clemente Wall. Suddenly it was 6-5 Braves.

Not only is Clay Holmes in the major leagues, but so are Geoff Hartlieb and Rookie Davis, and down one run, Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle said, “Why not?”

In the eighth, Josh Donaldson added his own three-run homer off Hartlieb.

In the ninth, after driving a ball into the river juuust foul, Freeman put one into the center field seats that counted for a two-run homer off Davis, capping the Braves’ third straight three run inning.

Each starting pitcher only managed to log four innings. The Braves’ bullpen: five shutout innings, allowing only one hit. The Pirates bullpen: the home runs among ten total runs allowed.

Pittsburgh entered the game having allowed the most runs in the National League, and it only got worse. Somehow, they are still only three games under .500, although that ties their low point of the season. Their record falls to 28-31, only one game ahead of the last place Cincinnati Reds.

The Pirates will try again at 7:05 p.m. ET on Wednesday night, as the Braves’ right-hander Kevin Gausman (2-4, 5.56) is scheduled to face Joe Musgrove (3-6, 4.57)