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Pirates Top Phils 5-4 to Even the Series

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Philadelphia Phillies Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

One day after losing a back-and-forth extra innings game to the Phillies to start the three-game series, the Pittsburgh Pirates plated a run in the top of the ninth and held on to take game two and even things up heading into the rubber match. Philadelphia’s closer Hector Neris allowed a run in the ninth frame for the second straight night, as the Bucs took advantage of sloppy Phillies defense to earn a 5-4 victory.

The scoring started early for Pittsburgh, as Kevin Newman led off the top of the first with a leadoff triple on a 2-0 fastball. Left hander Drew Smyly ran the count full on the second batter Bryan Reynolds, and the rookie slammed a fastball of his own into the left center field seats, giving the Pirates an early 2-0 lead.

Bucs lefty Steven Brault had a quick, 11-pitch first inning, but he would allow a single run in each of the next three frames. A Corey Dickerson double followed by an Adam Haseley two-out, seeing-eye single scored one in the second inning. A two-out single, walk, single sequence by Bryce Harper, Jean Segura, and Dickerson scored one in the third. Lastly a leadoff double by Sean “Serpico” Rodriguez turned into a run in the fourth inning when Haseley quickly singled him home.

The fifth inning was quiet for both teams, and Smyly actually pitched four scoreless innings after his tough start to the ballgame. However, the Pirates were collecting hits almost every inning, and it was just a matter of time before they turned those into runs. The first two batters of the inning got to the southpaw again in the top of the fifth, as Jose Osuna singled and Colin Moran hit a first pitch cutter over the right field wall for a two-run homer that took the lead. Smyly was pulled after 5.2 innings, and the score remained 4-3 Bucs after four and a half innings.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Phillies struck right back as pinch-hitter Logan Morrison hit a two-out homer to center field off of reliever Kyle Crick. The seventh and eighth innings were quiet on both fronts, and closer Hector Neris entered the game for the top of the ninth about 24 hours after allowing a ninth-inning, game-tying homer to Josh Bell on Monday.

Neris quickly got the first out on a groundout by Elias Diaz. However, he walked each of the next two batters, Adam Frazier and Melky Cabrera, throwing just one strike in the two at-bats combined. Then, Newman grounded what was sure to be an easy inning-ending double play to second base. The turn was clean, and the throw was good, but Rhys Hoskins just flat out dropped the ball, and booted it into foul territory. Frazier aggressively took home and scored what would be the game-winning run. After getting booed one night earlier for failing to come through with the bases loaded and no outs, Hoskins was once again showered with negativity, this time even louder, for his defensive play this time.

Felipe Vazquez stayed in the game and induced full count flyouts to both Hoskins and J.T. Realmuto before striking out Bryce Harper to earn his fifth win. This one surely stings for the Phillies, and while the Pirates have nothing to play for, stealing one like this against a cross-state rival in their park always feels good. The two teams will meet for the final game of the series on Wednesday night at 6:05 pm Eastern. Young righty Mitch Keller will take on once coveted prospect Vince Velasquez.