After beginning the season with a win, the Pittsburgh Pirates (1-6) were struggling to get themselves back into the win column. On Saturday night in Pittsburgh, with a massive outpouring of run support early in the game, the Pirates were able to secure a win against their divisional foe, the Chicago Cubs (4-3).
In game two of a three-game weekend set, the Pirates sent Mitch Keller (0-1) to the mound, while the Cubs called on Kyle Davies (1-0). With run scoring at a premium to begin the season for the Bucs, all of that early frustration reached a tipping point in the second inning when the Pirates were able to push across seven runs, setting themselves up for success early.
It was Chicago, however, who would open up the scoring. In the first inning, Kris Bryant hit a double which would score Ian Happ, giving the Cubs an early 1-0 edge. Keller, however, would settle in rather nicely after that, ultimately giving the Pirates five innings, allowing five hits, one run, one walk, and striking out seven, earning his first win of the season.
In the bottom of the second inning, the Pirates really got the ball rolling. Jacob Stallings singled in pair to kick off the run scoring festivities; Adam Frazier would follow that up with a double, extending the Pittsburgh advantage to 3-1. A Bryan Reynolds double brought around Keller and Frazier, pushing the lead further to 5-1. To conclude the scoring, a Colin Moran single brought in two more.
By the end of the inning, 12 batters had entered the box and seven runs had been pushed across the plate.
With the threat of rain ever-present, the game pushed along quietly. As the drops eventually started to fall, not much else happened until Phillip Evans launched his third home run of the season in the bottom of the sixth, adding another bit of insurance for the Bucs, giving them an 8-1 advantage.
Later, with Clay Holmes on the mound, Joc Pederson would drop in a single and score a run for the Cubs, cutting the lead to 8-2.
Michael Feliz capped off the game by pitching a scoreless, but not flawless, ninth inning, with Jason Heyward reaching on a double — he did record two strikeouts, though. Ultimately, however, the Cub threat was harmless and the Pirates were able to leave PNC Park Friday night with a win.
Of note, Duane Underwood, Jr., gave the Pirates two scoreless innings and struck out three. From the offensive side of things, Frazier collected two hits, including a double and an RBI, as did Evans; Reynolds drove in a pair and Moran collected two hits and drove in a pair of runs. Erik Gonzalez also doubled.
With the win, the Pirates improve to 2-6 on the season, while the Cubs drop to .500 on the campaign at 4-4. These two teams will meet again Sunday afternoon at PNC Park with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 EDT. JT Brubaker (0-0) will be on the bump for the Bucs; the Cubs counter with an old friend, Trevor Williams (1-0).