PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh broke their eight-game losing streak Saturday night and Johan Oviedo showed why they think he can be a big part of their future in a 6-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park.
The Pirates also got big hits from two rookies. Ji-hwan Bae smacked a two-run double, and Jack Suwinski had his first career pinch-hit home run, a three-run shot, to spark a five-run fifth inning.
The Pirates improved their record to 56-96 but still must win seven of their last 10 games to avoid a second consecutive 100-loss season.
Oviedo (4-2) allowed just three hits while striking seven. The most encouraging sign of all might have been zero walks. Oviedo had issued 14 bases on balls in just 13 2/3 innings for the Pirates prior to Saturday.
“The no walks are what really stand out,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “He came out and commanded the zone, was really in control and he put us in good position. He did a good job of really pounding the zone and going after it. It’s a good step forward. It was really impressive.”
Oviedo threw 58 of his 82 pitches for strikes in his fifth start since being recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis. The Pirates acquired Oviedo from the Cardinals as part of an Aug. 1 trade that sent left-hander Jose Quintana and reliever Chris Stratton to St. Louis.
Oviedo also retired the final 16 hitters he faced, though he readily admitted he did not realize it.
“That was one of the biggest things today – I was not thinking about anything. I was just trying to compete every single pitch,” Oviedo said. “I was not looking for strikeouts or the pitch count or anything. I was just trying to have fun every single pitch that I threw and forget about results, even if it was a good hit or bad or whatever happened.”
Zach Thompson pitched two innings to finish the five-hit shutout.
Bae’s line-drive double into the right-field corner started the big fifth inning.
Suwinski capped the outburst with a three-run home run off Adbert Alzolay while batting for Diego Castillo. The drive to center field, Suwinski’s 18th of the season, carried 426 feet to the shrubbery in front of the batter’s eye.
Castillo opened the scoring with a sacrifice fly in the first inning off left-hander Wade Miley (1-2).
Rodolfo Castro had two of the Pirates’ six hits, including a double.
Pirates third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes missed his third straight game with lower-back discomfort. A bad back put Hayes on the injured list from Aug. 12-22.
Castro again shifted from second base to third base, while Bae started at second.
Former Pirates pitcher Doug Drabek and longtime public address announcer Tim DeBacco were honored during separate pre-game ceremonies.
Fans received a Drabek bobblehead doll. He pitched for the Pirates from 1987-92 and won the National League Cy Young in 1990. Drabek remains the last Pirate to win the award.
The bobblehead promotion was originally scheduled for 2020 to commemorate the 30th anniversary but postponed because of the pandemic.
DeBacco is retiring after the season following 35 years on the job. DeBacco has worked a reduced schedule this season, doing primarily weekday afternoon games.
The four-game series concludes at 1:35 p.m. Sunday with Pirates rookie sensation Luis Ortiz (0-0, 0.84) pitching against Adrian Sampson (2-5, 3.35). The Pirates will attempt to gain a split.
Ortiz has allowed two runs (one earned) in 10.1 innings in his first two major league starts. Sampson was the Pirates’ fifth-round draft pick in 2012 then traded to the Seattle Mariners in 2015 for J.A. Happ.