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Another Bullpen Implosion Sinks Pirates in Rubber Match Against Giants

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Paul Skenes, Pittsburgh Pirates

PITTSBURGH — Joey Bart hit a grand slam and Paul Skenes delivered a strong start but the Pittsburgh Pirates’ bullpen imploded for the second-straight game, resulting in a 7-6 loss against the San Francisco Giants on Thursday afternoon at PNC Park.

The Pirates (23-28) had a four-run lead entering the eighth inning, but the Giants (25-26) opened with five-straight hits against Hunter Stratton (1-1) to tie the game. 

After a pair of singles to lead things off, Matt Chapman belted a three run home run to center field to bring the Giants within a run. Wilmer Flores then followed Jorge Soler’s double with a pinch-hit single to make it a 6-6 game.

Aroldis Chapman, fresh off of walking three-straight batters in Wednesday’s game, entered in relief of Stratton. Pinch runner Marco Luciano advanced to second on a wild pitch and then to third on a passed ball charged to Bart. He scored the winning run on Blake Wisely’s single up the middle. 

Luke Jackson (2-1) was given the win for the Giants and Tyler Rogers recorded his first save of the season. 

Facing his former team, Bart belted a grand slam with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning to break a scoreless tie. 

It was the Pirates’ second grand slam in as many games after Bryan Reynolds hit one in Wednesday’s loss. The last time the Pirates hit grand slams in back-to-back games was in 2000 and it’s only the seventh time they’ve done it since 1900. 

Bart’s four RBIs set a career-high and he finished the game 2 for 4 with a double to left in the sixth. Bart was ejected from the game in the bottom of the eighth by first base ump Alex Tossi. 

On the mound, Skenes followed up his brilliant outing at Wrigley with another strong outing against the Giants. The rookie right-hander held San Francisco to one run across six innings. He scattered six hits, walked one and punched out three. 

Through the first three starts of his career, Skenes carries an impressive 2.25 ERA. 

The Giants got on the board against Skenes when Jorge Soler bounced into a fielder’s choice with runners on the corners and one out. 

As part of a two-hit game, Andrew McCutchen provided the Pirates instant offense with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the first. It was McCutchen’s third leadoff homer of the season and the 25th in his career. 

After Heliot Ramos hit a solo homer off of Jose Hernandez in the top of the seventh, Bryan Reynolds responded with his own solo home run in the bottom of the inning, giving him two long balls in his last two games. Reynolds finished with three hits. 

Up Next

The Pirates’ homestand continues with a weekend series against the Braves on Friday.  Bailey Falter (2-2, 3.53 ERA) will get the start for Pittsburgh. Atlanta hasn’t named a starter. First pitch: 6:40 ET.

Housekeeping

Just before first pitch, the Pirates optioned outfielder Jack Suwinski to Triple-A Indianapolis and recalled Jose Hernandez.

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