Ronald Torreyes delivered a three-run pinch-hit homer in the sixth inning to send the Philadelphia Phillies on their way to a 12-6 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates Thursday night at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies, who closed to within two games of the first-place Atlanta Braves in the National League East, spotted the Bucs a 6-0 lead after 2 ½ innings. But that would be the beginning of the end for Pittsburgh, as the Phils scored 12 straight runs over the next six innings to take the first game of their four-game set.
The Pirates took a 6-5 lead into the bottom of the sixth behind reliever Anthony Banda, who gave up a leadoff single to pinch hitter J.T. Realmuto but then retired the next two hitters on infield outs that allowed Realmuto to reach third.
Banda then intentionally walked pinch hitter Matt Vierling, putting runners at the corners, and that brought up Torreyes, who was pinch hitting for Phils starter Aaron Nola.
Banda fell behind 2-0 and Torreyes jumped on his next pitch and hit a drive that barely reached the seats in left field, putting the Phillies on top 8-6.
Philadelphia added to its lead in the seventh on Realmuto’s two-run homer off Chad Kuhl. Realmuto added a two-run single in the eighth for good measure.
Going into Thursday’s outing, Kuhl’s last 10 appearances had been in relief, and during that time he had given up nine runs – eight earned – 14 hits and three walks in 9 1/3 innings for an ERA of 7.71. He gave up three home runs during that stretch, and Realmuto’s opposite-field blast Thursday made it four.
Prior to losing his spot in the starting rotation, Kuhl was on a bit of a roll, as he was 3-2 with a 2.84 ERA in seven starts covering 38 innings. He went on the injured list Aug. 2 after testing positive for COVID-19 and was out of action for nearly three weeks. When he was reinstated, he was sent to the bullpen, and the results have been disappointing, to say the least.
The Pirates jumped on Phillies starter Aaron Nola for five runs in the second and looked to have a good head start toward Connor Overton’s first career win.
Singles by Colin Moran and Cole Tucker, sandwiched around a lineout by Anthony Alford, put runners at first and second and a walk to Kevin Newman loaded the bases.
Overton then blooped a single to left, scoring Moran and Tucker to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead. Ke’Bryan Hayes then followed with his sixth home run of the year, a three-run opposite-field shot that extended the margin to 5-0.
Moran’s solo homer in the top of the third had the Pirates sitting on a 6-0 lead, but that didn’t last long.
Overton finally saw his career scoreless innings streak end in the bottom of the third when the Phillies struck for five runs, knocking Overton out of the game.
Didi Gregorius led off the inning with a home run, and the Phillies’ second run came home on Michael Perez’s passed ball – the first time in 193 games that the Pirates allowed a passed ball. Jean Segura’s sacrifice fly made it 6-3, and after Overton walked Bryce Harper, Cody Ponce came on in relief.
Ponce proved no mystery to the Phils as old friend Andrew McCutchen doubled home a run and Brad Miller followed with a base hit to cut the lead to 6-5.
NOTES – The Pirates’ Greensboro team in the High-A East Division team dropped the first game of its championship playoff series to Bowling Green (Tampa Bay), 10-8. The Grasshoppers trailed 7-5 after 3 ½ innings but scored single runs in each of the next three frames to go ahead 8-7. But Bowling Green erupted for three runs in the top of the ninth to claim the win. The two teams will meet again at 1:05 p.m. today in Game 2 of the best-of-five series at Greensboro with Quinn Priester – the Pirates’ No. 2-ranked prospect, according to MLB Pipeline – getting the start for the Grasshoppers.