Ji Hwan Bae’s first career home run gave the Pittsburgh Pirates the lead over the Boston Red Sox and Bryan Reynolds made sure they kept it as the Bucs defeated Boston 4-1 on Tuesday at Fenway Park.
With two outs in the second inning, Canaan Smith-Njigba reached on a dropped third strike. Bae made the most of the opportunity by hitting an opposite-field, two-run shot over the Green Monster to put the Pirates up 2-1.
Bae joined Vaugh Grissom (2022) as the only National League players to hit their first career home run at Fenway Park since it opened in 1912.
In the eighth inning, Bae made a leaping grab in left-center field to rob Rafael Devers of a potential extra-base hit. Bae switched from second base to center field at the beginning of the inning.
For the fourth time in his last three games, Reynolds connected for a home run. His solo shot in the top of the third inning extended the Pirates’ lead to 3-1. He almost homered again in the fifth inning when he lined one off the Green Monster but settled for a double.
Reynolds now has at least one homer in four straight games against the Red Sox, tied for the longest streak all-time vs. Boston for an N.L. player.
Reynolds wasn’t done, however. He later drove in Tyler Heineman with a base hit up the middle to extend the Pirates’ lead to 4-1.
After getting recalled from Triple-A earlier on Tuesday, Heineman drew a walk, singled, stole a base and scored a run.
In his first start of the season, Roansy Contreras (1-0) became the first Pirates’ pitcher to work into the sixth inning. The right-hander went 5.2 innings pitched, allowed one run on three hits, walked one and struck out a pair.
The lone run against Contreras came in the first inning when Masataka Yoshida drove in Alex Verdugo with a groundout to second base.
It looked like Contreras would complete six innings, but shortstop Oneil Cruz committed a throwing error with two outs in the inning. Manager Derek Shelton brought in reliever Dauri Moreta, who struck out Adam Duvall to end the inning.
Cruz, meanwhile, drew a leadoff walk, extending his on-base streak to a career-high 15 games dating back to last year.
Jose Hernandez faced a difficult task by entering the game with a man on second base and two outs in the seventh. He struck out pinch hitter Christian Arroyo to end the threat. The punch out was the first of Hernandez’s career.
David Bednar recorded his second save in as many games and his third of the season.
The Pirates (3-2) will go for the series sweep on Wednesday afternoon against the Red Sox (2-3) at 1:35. Mitch Keller (0-0, 7.71 ERA) will make his second start of the season for Pittsburgh. Boston will send out veteran right-hander Corey Kluber (0-1, 13.50 ERA)
- Driving Up The Price: Reynolds became the first Pirates’ player to homer in three straight games since Josh Bell from Aug. 11-13 in 2019. His four homers in the Pirates’ first five games are tied with Reggie Sanders (2003) and Willie Stargell (1971) for the most in franchise history.
- First Inning Issues: One time through the rotation so far and four out of the five Bucs’ starters have allowed at least one run in the first inning. Keller allowed one in the opener and Rich Hill was tagged for three the following day. After Vince Velasquez got through his first inning unscathed, Johan Oviedo allowed five runs (four earned) on Monday before Contreras allowed one on Tuesday. In total, Pirates’ starters have a 16.20 ERA in the opening frame.
- Big Bank: Dating back to his July 10 appearance with the Reds last season, Moreta has only allowed two earned runs in his last 17.2 innings pitched (1.02 ERA) after adding another scoreless inning to his ledger in this one.