The Pittsburgh Pirates fell to the Atlanta Braves 8-2 on the road Friday night. Mitch Keller gave up eight runs in five innings, while Braves’ rookie Bryce Elder struck out nine across seven innings of two-run ball.
Center fielder Ji-Hwan Bae began the game with a double, but the Pirates (65-76) couldn’t bring him around to score.
The Braves put two runners on in the bottom of the frame, but Keller pitched through traffic to keep them off the board.
First baseman Alfonso Rivas walked, stole second and took third on a groundout as he made his best attempt at scoring a small ball run in the second. Again, the Pirates couldn’t knock him in.
Keller allowed six soft singles in the third inning—just one of which surpassed 84 miles per hour—death from one thousand paper cuts as the Braves opened a 4-0 lead.
MVP candidate Ronald Acuña Jr. opened the fourth with a 455-foot first-pitch bomb. Left fielder Eddie Rosario yanked a two-run no-doubter to right later in the inning to make it 7-0.
After Acuña added an RBI single in the fifth, Jack Suwinski broke up the shutout with a two-run homer in the sixth.
The Pirates put two on with one out in the eighth, but Ke’Bryan Hayes lined into a double play to end the threat.
Keller’s fluky third inning, which could’ve looked much better with a favorable bounce or two. Instead, the rout was on, and Keller never recovered from the 42-pitch frame.
Star of the Game:
Acuña, who reached base all five times, going 3-for-4 with a home run and a walk. He also reached via error.
Stat of Interest:
Keller’s seven-run blowup pushed his ERA back north of four after four straight quality starts.
- Acuña now has three home runs in his last two games.
- Keller allowed eight runs for the third time this season, and fourth in his career.
Pittsburgh’s series with the Braves continues at 7:20pm Saturday. The Pirates are expected to send right-hander Johan Oviedo (8-14, 4.27 ERA) to the mound. Atlanta hasn’t announced a starter yet.