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Pirates’ Keller, Ortiz Spell Bullpen in 8-1 Win Over Blue Jays

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Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Mitch Keller delivers during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Pittsburgh, Monday, April 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The Pittsburgh Pirates drew even in their series with the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday, powered to an 8-1 win with an excellent start from Mitch Keller and a balanced showing at the plate as Ke’Bryan Hayes and Bryan Reynolds each notching two-run homers.

Keller went six innings on 106 pitches, striking out eight batters and allowing just one run, which came in his final inning of work. Luis Ortiz piggybacked with three scoreless innings in relief, allowing just one hit and helping to preserve a taxed bullpen following the Pirates’ loss in the 14th inning the previous night.

Pittsburgh (27-31) raced out to a 3-o lead in the first inning. Andrew McCutchen drew a four-pitch walk and Connor Joe doubled to put two runners in scoring position. McCutchen scored on an Edward Olivares sacrifice fly, then Ke’Bryan Hayes pulled a slider 404 feet over the left-center fence. Both extra base hits came on sliders running in over the heart of the plate from Toronto’s left-handed starter Yusei Kikuchi.

Keller allowed a one-out triple in the bottom of the frame before walking Vladimir Guerrero Jr., but managed consecutive strikeouts to escape the inning unscathed.

The Pirates tacked on two more runs in the fourth. Jared Triolo kicked things off with a double, then McCutchen and Joe added RBI singles, pushing the lead t0 5-0. Both teams plated a run the following frame, with Pittsburgh’s coming on a Triolo fielder’s choice.

Reynolds gave Pittsburgh two insurance runs in the top of the ninth, crushing a cutter 440 feet to center.

The Pirates look to take their series with the Blue Jays beginning at 1:37 pm on Sunday, June 2. Toronto will send right-hander Chris Bassitt (4.03 ERA, 56 SO) to the mound. Pittsburgh’s starter has yet to be announced.

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