Two big two-out swings made all the difference Wednesday, as the Pittsburgh Pirates used a three-run homer from Ben Gamel and a two-run triple by Kevin Newman to defeat the Chicago Cubs, 6-2, at PNC Park.
The win gave the Bucs a split of their two-game set with the Cubs and boosted their 2022 record to 2-3 heading into Thursday’s 6:35 p.m. matchup with the Washington Nationals at PNC Park.
The Pirates spotted the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the first when Willson Contreras blasted a hanger from Bucs starter Zach Thompson over the centerfield fence. Contreras’ blast was measured at 453 feet.
But the Pirates answered in the bottom of the first, touching starter Kyle Hendricks for three hits and a walk. A double play erased the first runner, but after newly minted millionaire Ke’Bryan Hayes singled and Yoshi Tsutsugo walked, Gamel golfed a Hendricks offering over the wall in right field for a three-run homer.
Ben Gamel - Pittsburgh Pirates (1) pic.twitter.com/xj8F1mlNdX— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) April 13, 2022
Pittsburgh added two more runs in the third when Newman took a pitch the opposite way, off the right field wall to score Hayes, who had doubled with one out, and Gamel, who walked.
Pirates starter Zach Thompson pitched into the fifth inning but exited the game after being struck by a line drive in the back of the right shoulder off the bat of Nico Hoerner. Dillon Peters came on in relief and found himself in a jam, as the Cubs loaded the bases with one out to bring up Contreras.
But Peters got Contreras to ground into a 5-4-3 double play to end the threat.
The Bucs got solid pitching from Thompson, Peters and Wil Crowe, as they combined to limit the Cubs to six hits while walking three and striking out eight. Crowe earned his first career save, holding the visitors to one hit and a walk while striking out four over three innings.
At the plate, Hayes went 4 for 4, accounting for half of the Bucs’ hits.