The Pittsburgh Pirates broke out of their two-week hitting slump in a big way Tuesday by beating the San Diego Padres 8-4 in the opener of a three-game series and six-game homestand at PNC Park.
The Pirates (36-42) had scored just 30 runs while losing 12 of their previous 13 games but pounded out 16 hits. The nine runs were their most since beating the New York Mets 14-7 on June 9.
Carlos Santana homered, had three hits, and drove in two runs to lead the Pirates’ attack. Andrew McCutchen also had three hits and rookie Nick Gonzales drove in two runs with a home run and a triple.
The Padres (37-42) have lost eight of their last 11 games.
With the Pirates holding a 6-4 lead in the sixth inning, the Padres put runners on second and third with two outs. However, Rich Hill (7-7) escaped the jam by getting Trent Grisham to hit a comebacker to the mound.
STAR OF THE GAME
Santana hit a solo home run in the third then singled in the fourth and sixth innings. He finished 3 for 4.
STAT OF INTEREST
The Pirates moved into a tie for first place in the major leagues when they hit their seventh set of back-to-back home runs in third as Santana and Jack Suwinski connected to lead off the inning. Suwinski had been hitless in his previous 30 at-bats.
–Gonzales got his first major-league hit when he tripled high off the wall in right field in the third inning against Reiss Knehr (0-1). Gonzales had been 0 for 8 since being called up from Triple-A Indianapolis last Thursday.
–Rodolfo Castro snapped a 0-for-18 skid with a second-inning single and Austin Hedges ended his 0-for-17 slump with a single in the fifth. Castro went 2 for 5 and Hedges was 2 for 2 with a walk.
–Hill got the win, allowing four runs and four runs and nine hits in six innings with four strikeouts and two walks. Roansy Contreras finished with three scoreless innings for his first career save.
–Ji Hwan Bae was ejected by home plate umpire Jeremie Rehak, a Murrysville native, after taking a called strike to begin his plate appearance in the sixth inning. Bae went 0 for 2 with a sacrifice fly and two strikeouts and is now hitless in his last 24 at-bats.
–Reliever Colin Holderman threw 25 pitches in a live batting practice session before the game. He has been on the injured list since June 15 with right wrist inflammation.
–Ke’Bryan Hayes missed his second straight game with lower back tightness, but manager Derek Shelton said the third baseman is “getting better.”
–The Pirates wore their City Connect bright gold uniforms for the first time.
–Buffalo Bills safety and Pitt alumnus Damar Hamlin, who nearly died of cardiac arrest during a game last season, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Andrew McCutchen.
Mitch Keller (8-3, 3.45) will pitch for the Pirates against left-hander Blake Snell (4-6, 3.22) at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday in the middle game of the series.
Keller is 1-2 with a 4.07 ERA in four starts in June. Snell has not lost since May 19, going 3-0 with a 0.50 ERA in his last six starts.