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Pirates Use Big Sixth Inning to Rally Back to Defeat Cubs 8-6

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In what seems to be happening too frequently lately, the Pirates built an early lead just to blow it and find themselves trailing a couple innings later. This time however, the Pirates rallied back as a big sixth inning and Colin Moran’s four RBIs gave the Pirates a 8-6 victory over the Cubs at PNC Park on Tuesday.

The Pirates took an early 3-0 lead thanks to a Moran three-run home run, his 10th of the year. By the fifth, the Pirates trailed by three runs. It looked like the Pirates were about to blow another early lead in demoralizing fashion, but the Pirates’ put together quite the rally in the sixth inning by sending eight men to the plate.

The Pirates loaded the bases with nobody out when Ben Gamel hit a sacrifice fly to center field to give the Pirates a run back. With two outs, Hoy Park lined a triple into the right-center gap that plated a pair and tied the game. Michael Chavis, fresh off the injured list, pinch-hit for Enyel De Los Santos and put the Pirates ahead with an opposite-field single.

Moran tacked on an insurance run in the seventh with an RBI-single, his fourth RBI of the game that gave the Pirates an 8-6 lead.

The Cubs sent eight men to the plate in the third and crossed home plate three times. Frank Schwindel, Matt Duffy and Nick Martini all collected RBI singles. Mitch Keller was able to escape further damage as he got David Bote to bounce into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded.

After settling down in the fourth, Keller again got hit around in the fifth. Ian Happ singled home a run before Duffy doubled off the center field wall plating another. That would be it for Keller as Anthony Banda entered the game in relief. Martini greeted him with a sacrifice fly that extended the Cubs lead to 6-3.

Keller went four-plus, surrendered nine hits, three walks and picked up a pair of strikeouts. He was tagged with six earned runs. 

De Los Santos picked up his first Pirate win, and Chris Stratton picked up the save for the Pirates, his seventh of the season.

The middle game of the three game series will be Wednesday at 6:35. It should be an exciting one for the Pirates as Roansy Contreras will make his Major League debut for the Bucs. Kyle Hendricks (14-7, 4.81 ERA) gets the nod for Chicago.

Stat of the Game:

  • Before struggling in this one, Keller entered play with a good string of starts in the month of September. In four starts since the month began, Keller pitched 21.2 innings, gave up just eight run and recorded 19 strikeouts. That was good for a 3.32 ERA and a 2.52 FIP. His start on Tuesday was the first time this month that Keller failed to go at least five innings. Keller will finish the month of September without serving up a home run to an opposing batter.

Takeaways:

  • Young Gun Ready to Fire: The 21-year-old Contreras will be the youngest starting pitcher to start for the Pirates in 17 seasons, according to Joe Block on Twitter. Contreras is rated as the Pirates #6 prospect on MLB Pipeline. In 13 starts between Double-A Altoona (12 starts) and Triple-A Indianapolis (one start), Contreras combined to go 3-2 with a 2.64 ERA in 58 innings. He struck out 82 batters vs. just 13 walks, and only allowed 41 hits on the year.
  • Finish Strong, B-Rey: After collecting three hits including a double in four trips to the plate in this one, Bryan Reynolds is currently sitting at a .296 average and a an .892 OPS on the season. He’s seeking to become the first Pirate since Andrew McCutchen in 2014 to finish a season with a .300+ batting average and a .900 OPS in the same season. McCutchen hit .314 that year and posted a .952 OPS while finishing third in the National League MVP race that season for the Pirates. 
  • Heart of the Order: The Pirates’ three through five hitters of Reynolds, Moran and Jacob Stallings got it done for the Pirates in this one. The trio combined for seven hits, six runs, four runs driven in and collectively reached base 10 times on the night. Reynolds collected three hits and reached base on an error, Moran was 2 for 2 with a home run and a pair of walks and Stallings collected a pair of singles. It was good to see Stallings back behind the plate after his stint on the 7-day concussion injured list.
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