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Brubaker Goes Seven Strong, But Braves Beat Pirates 3-1

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Pittsburgh Pirates JT Brubaker

JT Brubaker pitched seven strong innings for the Pirates, but the Bucs bats again were quiet and the Braves defeated Pittsburgh 3-1 in the first game of a four-game series on Thursday night.

The Braves struck in the second inning thanks to a two-out, run-scoring single off the bat of Adam Duvall. One inning later, Dansby Swanson looped an RBI-single to right, and Travis d’Arnaud drove in Swanson with a double down the left field corner, extending Atlanta’s lead to 3-0.

That was all that the Braves managed against Brubaker, who delivered a quality start. He tied his career with seven innings of work, having also accomplished the feat against the Twins last April.

Brubaker pitched better as the night went on. In total, he allowed three runs on six hits, two walks and picked up seven strikeouts. He was one pitch shy of 100, with 65 going for strikes.

The Pirates answered in the fourth inning after Jack Suwinski hit yet another homerun. The solo shot was his eighth of the season, tied for the most among all Major League rookies.

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Travis Swaggerty picked up his first career big league hit in the fifth inning on an infield single with his family in attendance — always a cool moment.

With the win, the defending World Series champion Braves extended their winning streak to eight games, and with the loss, the Pirates have dropped three in a row. The Pirates haven’t scored more than three runs in a game since last Friday in their 8-6 loss to Arizona.

The Bucs and Braves will play the second of four games on Friday night. The pitching matchup will be a pair of rookie right-handers. Roansy Contreras (1-0, 1.93 ERA) will take the mound for Pittsburgh against Spencer Strider (1-2, 2.76 ERA).

Takeaways

  • Bru Back On Track: After a rough last outing in which Brubaker was tagged with five earned runs and served up three homers, the right-hander bounced back with a strong, quality performance over his seven innings. Brubaker has had a strong stretch over his last 10 starts after two rough outings to begin the season. In those 10 starts, Brubaker’s ERA reads 3.86.
  • Gotta Feel Good: Bryan Reynolds hasn’t quite looked right at the plate so far this season, but turned in a three-hit performance with three singles in four at-bats. In the first inning, Reynolds blooped a single into center just out of the reach of the diving Michael Harris. He then proceeded to beat the shift in his next two at-bats, both resulting in knocks. It was the first three-hit game of the season for the Bucs centerfielder. 
  • Power Surge: After Suwisnki’s homer in the fourth, the Pirates have recorded at least one homerun in nine straight contests, hitting 12 as a team over that stretch. Suwinski has played a big role in the improved power numbers as the rookie has launched three long balls over his last five contests. The power surge has been welcomed to the team that finished with 20 less homers than any other team in baseball a season ago when they managed only 124 as a team.
  • Traffic Jams: Pittsburgh faced a tall task against left-hander Max Fried. The Pirates managed to record eight hits against him, but did very little damage. The Pirates wasted scoring opportunities by going hitless in four at-bats with runners in scoring position against Fried. Scoring chances are pretty rare against a pitcher like Fried, and you have to cash in when you can if you want to win.
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