Steven Brault came out firing 69 straight fastballs over six innings before striking out Ian Desmond with a slider on 1-2 count, then in the very next half inning smashed a 441 foot home run to the second deck in right center field, as he led the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 6-2 victory over the Rockies in Coors Field on Sunday, completing a four game sweep.
The Pirates’ Adam Frazier hit the first pitch of the game from Rockies’ starter Jeff Hoffman deep to right for a lead off homer, Frazier’s eighth of the year, but unlike the earlier games of the series, the contest quickly settled into a close fought pitcher’s duel.
Brault allowed a line single to left by Pat Valaika to lead off the third, but he was quickly erased on a double play and Brault needed only 21 pitches to face the minimum nine batters. Even after two walks in the fourth he was at 40 pitches through four innings.
Valaika’s was still the only hit for Colorado until the sixth when Nolan Arenado lined a ball into the first row in left for his 35th home run.
Leading by just a 2-1 score, Brault led off the top of the seventh and drove a 2-2 pitch from reliever Jesus Tinoco well into the second level, only his second long ball since high school.
Bad luck struck in the bottom of seventh when lefty batting Ryan McMahon pushed a bunt past Brault to the second baseman Adam Frazier for a single and Garrett Hampson reached when his popup clanked off the glove of Frazier, attempting an over the shoulder catch as he ranged far into right field. After Valaika struck out swinging, another left-handed batter, Tony Wolters, fisted a ball into shallow right for an RBI single and Brault’s day was done.
Richard Rodriguez entered to face the left-handed swinging pinch-hitter Daniel Murphy, and had problems trying to grab Murphy’s topper in front of the mound, but recovered in time to throw out Hampson at home. Rodriguez then ended the inning when he caught Trevor Story looking at a high surve ball.
Keona Kela allowed a walk in the eight and Felipe Vasquez a walk in the ninth, but another couple of insurance runs in the top of that inning had left little doubt as to the outcome of the game.
Left fielder Bryan Reynolds rapped thtree singles and narrowly trails Washington’s Anthony Rendon in the batting average race, .337 to .335.
The Pirates have Monday off before traveling home to face Miami on Tuesday.