JT Brubaker will never be confused with Shohei Ohtani, but he was a one-man wrecking crew for the Pittsburgh Pirates Sunday, leading them with his bat and arm to a 7-1 victory over the visiting Chicago Cubs at PNC Park.
Brubaker pitched 5 1/3 innings of one-run baseball, giving up just four hits and a walk while striking out four in getting his first victory of the season.
At the plate, he delivered a two-run single to spark a three-run second-inning rally and added another RBI with a fielder’s choice in the third.
The victory was the Bucs’ second in a row, and improved the team’s record to 3-6.
Pirates manager Derek Shelton was pleased to see the production at the plate from Brubaker. In his postgame press conference televised by AT&T SportsNet, Shelton joked that Brubaker “used the whole field,” lining his single just fair down the right field line and then bouncing one up the middle for an RBI fielder’s choice.
“It wasn’t hard contact,” Shelton said of the fielder’s choice, “but he made contact. He beat a ball into the ground and we were able to score another run. Any time you’re able to get a pitcher to contribute offensively, it’s a good thing.”
Shelton also saluted the Pirates’ video replay coordinator for his role in helping the Pirates win two replay challenges, including one that resulted in a double play in the top of the third inning. “That was big,” Shelton said.
Brubaker’s outing was the second straight positive performance from a starting pitcher, coming on the heels of Mitch Keller’s solid outing Saturday.
The Pirates also received some timely hitting in the early portions of the game to build a 5-1 lead against Trevor Williams, who had a rough outing facing his old team for the first time.
Williams lasted just 3 1/3 innings, giving up five earned runs and 10 hits while walking two and striking out three.
The Pirates, who sent 12 men to the plate in the second inning to score seven times in Saturday’s win, pushed three runs across Sunday in the same frame.
Gregory Polanco started the rally with a base hit and he moved to second on Jacob Stallings’ single. Dustin Fowler then lined one into the left-center gap, scoring Polanco and moving Stallings to third.
Fowler initially was called out at second but a replay overturned that call, leaving runners at second and third.
Brubaker then helped his own cause with his line-drive single to right, driving in both Stallings and Fowler to make it 3-1.
The Pirates added a run in the third on Kevin Newman’s single, a walk to Stallings and a hit batsman. Brubaker then bounced one over Williams’ head that resulted in a force at second, enabling Newman to score.
Pittsburgh made it 5-1 in the fourth on consecutive base hits by Phillip Evans, Bryan Reynolds and Colin Moran, the last of which drove home Evans.
The Bucs added two more runs in the seventh on Wilmer Difo’s two-run pinch-hit homer.
The Pirates once again got nice work from their bullpen, as Sam Howard, Chris Stratton, Kyle Crick and David Bednar combined to pitch 3 2/3 scoreless innings without a walk, with Crick allowing the lone hit.
The Pirates’ opening homestand continues Monday when the San Diego Padres visit PNC Park for a 6:35 p.m. matchup.
Yu Darvish (0-0) is scheduled to pitch for San Diego while Trevor Cahill (0-1) gets the call for the Bucs.