PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies met in the battle of the Keystone State on Thursday night.
Facing an 8-2 deficit in the ninth inning, the Pirates made a late rally but fell short 8-7 in the opener of a four-game series at PNC Park.
In the ninth, Tyler Heineman plated two run with a single up the middle. Kevin Newman followed with a two-run triple, making it an 8-6 game.
After that, the Phillies went to closer Seranthony Dominguez, who induced an RBI-groundout to Oneil Cruz. Dominguez got Ke’Bryan Hayes to fly out to end the rally and the game.
The Phillies’ offense broke out for a three-run first inning. Darick Hall hit a two-RBI triple to right field after a misread by Bligh Madris, and Nick Castellanos followed by ripping a base hit to left, plating Hall.
Philadelphia tacked on another run the following inning after Alec Bohm singled home Matt Vierling, making it 4-0.
Pittsburgh Pirates starter Zach Thompson settled in after that until the sixth inning. After a pair of base hits with two outs, Kyle Schwarber unloaded a three-run shot to put Philadelphia ahead 7-0. It was Schwarber’s National League-leading 32nd home run.
Thompson was pulled after the home run, finishing 5.2 innings of work. The Phillies hit him around, recording 11 hits off the right-hander and tagged him for seven earned runs. Thompson didn’t walk a batter and struck out four on 99 pitches, his second-highest total this year.
Philadelphia recorded 11 batted balls with exit velocities of at least 110+ mph off of Thompson, six of which came in the first two innings.
The Phillies added another run in the seventh inning after three straight two-out hits, the last of which was an RBI single from Didi Gregorius.
The Pittsburgh Pirates’ offense faced a tall task in facing Phillies right-hander Zack Wheeler, an even taller task given Pittsburgh’s struggles at the plate. Wheeler held up his end of the bargain, holding the Pirates to just two runs over seven innings.
The Bucs didn’t find the scoreboard until the seventh inning when Cal Mitchell hit a two-run homer to right-center field, cutting the Phillies’ lead to 8-2. Mitchell collected three hits,
The Pirates fell to 1-5 since the All-Star break,
The second game of this four-game intrastate battle will be on Friday night. Jose Quintana (3-5, 3.70 ERA) is scheduled to pitch for the Pirates opposite Bailey Falter (0-3, 5.18 ERA) for the Phillies at 7:05 p.m.