Oneil Cruz’s RBI single in 11th inning lifts Pirates to 5-4 win over Orioles

Pittsburgh Pirates’ Oneil Cruz watches his walkoff single during the 11th inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Saturday, April 6, 2024, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Matt Freed)

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Oneil Cruz singled home the winning run in the 11th inning to give the Pittsburgh Pirates a 5-4 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. Cruz drove in automatic runner Henry Davis from second base. Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins temporarily kept the game tied when he made a diving catch of Ke’Bryan Hayes’ line drive, but Cruz followed with a single to right off Jonathan Heasley. Josh Fleming retired the side in order in the top of the 10th for the win. Joey Bart homered in his first at-bat with the Pirates, and starter Bailey Falter pitched six shutout innings.

Miguel Andujar Claimed by Athletics off Waivers From Pirates

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Miguel Andujar was claimed off waivers by the Oakland Athletics on Monday from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The 28-year-old outfielder and infielder hit .250 with four homers and 18 RBIs in 90 plate appearances in his second season with the Pirates, who claimed him off waivers from the New York Yankees in September 2022. Andujar batted .338 with 16 homers and 86 RBIs in 103 games this year with Triple-A Indianapolis.

Andujar batted .297 with 27 homers and 92 RBIs for the Yankees in 2018 but his production has dropped considerably. He has a .270 average with 39 homers and 149 RBIs in parts of seven big league seasons.

Mitch Keller Stars as Pittsburgh Pirates Blank the Washington Nationals 2-0

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Mitch Keller pitched eight innings of two-hit ball, and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Washington Nationals 2-0 on Thursday.

Keller (12-9) struck out seven and walked one. The 27-year-old right-hander improved to 3-1 with a 3.07 ERA in his last seven starts.

“Just filling it up and using the cutter to lefties was huge. Using the sinker and the four-seam to righties set up the sweeper,” Keller said. “We’re able to mix things and keep a good attack plan. Mixed in the curveball again today, used some changeup there too, which was really good to see. (Catcher Jason Delay) did a great job picking spots to call them. They were really successful pitches.”

David Bednar pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 35th save. Keller was pulled after 92 pitches, 65 for strikes.

“When he went out in the eighth, the first two pitches he threw were like 91-92 (mph), so that was like, ‘Eh,’ with David there available,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “I mean, if he comes out and he’s (throwing) 95 there, then we’re having a different conversation.”

Pittsburgh won the final three games of the four-game set against last-place Washington. The Pirates have won 11 of 16 overall.

The Nationals wasted a solid performance by Josiah Gray (7-12), who struck out 10 in 6 1/3 innings. The right-hander was charged with two runs and five hits.

“Early strikes, first-pitch strikes, finish them off with my whole array of pitches,” Gray said. “Just getting ahead early worked a lot today, just believing in my stuff. Using the whole part of the plate. It was a good day.”

It was Gray’s first big league appearance since Sept. 3 against Miami, when he allowed three runs and walked four in four innings.

“For me, it was just, how can I, not sort of simplify things, but try and bring out some properties in my delivery that I know where I feel stable, where I feel comfortable,” Gray said. “I felt good with it, felt I could roll with it. The early returns are good, but just like every day, have to come to the ballpark tomorrow and get back to work. Just continue to build off it.”

Pittsburgh jumped in front when Jack Suwinski led off the second with his team-high 25th homer on a drive to right. Alfonso Rivas connected with two out in the fifth, hitting a 411-foot shot to center for his third homer.

“I thought Gray was pretty good today. The slider was pretty effective,” Shelton said. “We had two solid homers, but I think in terms of Jack, he’s back to releasing the barrel the way he was earlier in the year.”

Washington put two runners on in the first when CJ Abrams hit a leadoff single and Lane Thomas reached on an error by shortstop Liover Peguero. But Keller retired Keibert Ruiz on a fly ball to left, picked off Abrams at second and struck out Joey Meneses.

“The at-bats today were not good. They weren’t crisp,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “We chased a lot out of the zone. We have to do a better job, especially against a guy like (Keller). He’s also good. We have to get him in the zone. Today, we just chased a lot.”

Braves First MLB Team to Clinch Playoff Berth This Year, Rally to Beat Pirates 5-2

ATLANTA (AP) — Having become the first team to clinch a playoff berth, the Atlanta Braves looked ahead toward larger aims.

“I wanted to congratulate the guys, but our No. 1 goal coming out of spring training is to win the division,” manager Brian Snitker said after the Braves rallied to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 on Sunday.

Matt Olson went 2 for 3 with three RBIs.

“It’s exciting to be a part of this team. It is going to be a fun end of the season,” rookie starter Allan Winans said.

Atlanta leads the second-place Phillies by 15 games in the NL East heading into a a four-game series starting Monday in Philadelphia. If the Braves win three of the four, they would assure their sixth straight division title.

“It will be a tough four games in three days,” Snitker said. “Their lineup is every bit as tough as ours.”

By clinching after 142 games, the Braves tied the 1975 Cincinnati Reds for the sixth-fewest games to clinch a postseason berth in a 162-game season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The 1998 Yankees set the record by clinching after 135 games.

Atlanta (93-49) reached the postseason for the sixth straight year, the second-longest streak in franchise history. The Braves won 11 straight NL East titles from 1995-2005.

Ronald Acuña Jr. had a key two-out single to spark the seventh-inning rally and had two RBIs.

Brad Hand (4-1) won in relief of Winans, who allowed two runs and six hits while striking out eight in 6 1/3 innings. AJ Minter struck out the side in the eighth and Raisel Iglesias pitched a scoreless ninth for his 29th save in 31 chances.

“He’s been awesome,” Snitker said of Winans, who has gone back and forth between Triple-A Gwinnett. “I loved his demeanor. He slows the game down and has a lot of confidence in himself.”

Colin Selby (2-1) gave up four runs in just one-third of an inning. Pirates rookie Luis Ortiz allowed one run and three hits in 5 1/3 innings against the major leagues’ highest-scoring offense.

“He was very good,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “He attacked the zone. He went after the best lineup in baseball. Defensively, we played well behind him. We had an inning or two with some hard contact, made some plays. But overall I thought he threw the ball really well.”

Bryan Reynolds and Jake Suwinski had RBI doubles in the sixth, and Olson’s run-scoring groundout cut the deficit in the sixth.

With the Braves trailing 2-1 in the seventh and chants of ‘M-V-P’ being heard across Truist Park, Acuña hit a two-run single over Suwinski that short-hopped the center-field wall. Olson followed with a two-run single.

“What Acuña is doing, what Olson is doing,” Winans said. “It’s just incredible.”

Brandon Woodruff Pitches Seven Scoreless Innings to lift NL Central-Leading Brewers over Pirates 7-3

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Brandon Woodruff pitched seven shutout innings and Mark Canha’s two-run single capped a six-run fifth inning as the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-3 on Tuesday night.

Woodruff (4-1) allowed just two hits, singles to Ji Hwan Bae in the first inning and Endy Rodriguez in the fifth. Woodruff also had six strikeouts and two walks while improving to 14-3 with a 2.36 ERA in his last 29 starts dating to last season.

“I thought it was a good outing and that he got stronger as the game went on and then really got on cruise control and every pitch started working well,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Just a great outing.”

Coming off back-to-back losses, the Brewers entered the night 2 1/2 games ahead of the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central race.

Woodruff missed nearly four months with right shoulder inflammation before returning Aug. 6. He is beginning to feel comfortable again after making six starts.

“I expect to go out there and pitch well but coming off this injury it’s a weird deal where I expect to go out there and perform yet not have many expectations because I don’t have a full season to work with,” Woodruff said. “I’m trying to go out there and have fun and go pitch to pitch. I’m kind of just working inning to inning so far. Thankfully, it’s working out so far.”

Connor Joe broke up the Brewers’ shutout bid by hitting a three-run home run in the ninth inning off Clayton Andrews for just his second hit in his last 29 at-bats. The Pirates had runners on first and second with two outs but Elvis Peguero got Miguel Andujar to hit a game-ending ground out.

Andre Jackson (1-2) was charged with six runs in 4 1/3 innings and walked five as the Pirates lost for just the second time in eight games.

The Brewers broke a scoreless tie with a run in the fourth on a double-play grounder by Canha after Jackson walked the bases loaded.

Milwaukee extended its lead to 7-0 with the big fifth inning.

Andruw Monasterio drove in the first run with a triple to the 410-foot mark in left-center. Brice Turang hit an RBI single, Christian Yelich lofted a sacrifice fly and Carlos Santana doubled in a run before Canha delivered his two-run single to left field.

“As a hitter, you’re waiting for the pitch to make a mistake and he made one to me,” Monasterio said. “We started hitting mistakes in that inning. When you do that, you do damage at home plate.”

Jackson retired the Brewers in order in each of the first three innings before struggling in the fourth and fifth.

“Command of the zone,” Shelton said when asked what caused Jackson’s problems. “It didn’t look like the stuff ticked down a little bit. It’s just he wasn’t on the plate.”

Brewers rookie center fielder Sal Frelick had two hits. It was a bit of a homecoming for Frelick as his father Jeff’s – a former Pitt fullback — side of the family is from nearby Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

Milwaukee’s William Contreras walked twice but went 0 for 3 to end his career-best 14-game hitting streak.

Pirates reliever Hunter Stratton pitched two scoreless innings in his major league debut. Joshua Palacios had two hits.

Oviedo Pitches 2-Hitter for First Complete Game, Leads Pirates over Royals 5-0

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Johan Oviedo pitched a two-hitter for his first complete game in 53 major league starts, Ke’Bryan Hayes had four hits and Zack Greinke lost his ninth consecutive decision in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 5-0 win and the Kansas City Royals on Monday night.

Oviedo (8-13) struck out five and walked two while throwing a career-high 112 pitches.

“He was on point the entire game,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “When he got behind he was able to execute..”

It was just the 28th complete game in the major leagues this season and the first complete game in 150 professional starts for the 26-year-old right-hander dating to 2016. Oviedo had never before gotten an out in the eighth inning, must less pitch the ninth.

“I was trying not to think about anything,” Oviedo said. “I was very excited. I tried to just check my mind and make good pitches.”

Catcher Endy Rodríguez lobbied Shelton and pitching coach Oscar Martin to allow Oviedo to finish.

“Going into the ninth, I didn’t plan on pitching him, because he was at 97,” Shelton said of the pitch count. “I figured that was good. Endy Rodríguez made a pretty strong push. He kept saying, ‘Let’s go, he’s fine.’ … I figured: young catcher feeling it. We were hitter by hitter, but it was good for Endy and good for Ovi.”

Pittsburgh won at Kansas City for the first time since Aug. 20, 2015.

Kansas City (41-92) didn’t advance a runner past first base. The Royals were blanked for the 14th time this season and held to two hits or fewer for the eighth time.

“We didn’t put too many good swings on him,” Kansas City manager Matt Quatraro said.

Greinke (1-13) gave up two runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings, dropping to 0-9 in 17 starts since beating Baltimore on May 3. The 39-year-old right-hander is tied with Oviedo, Kyle Freeland and Rich Hill for second in the majors in losses, trailing only teammate Jordan Lyles at 15. Grienke had only one 1-2-3 inning.

“He was a little bit off with his command,” Quatraro said. “It’s amazing how he can compete and get out of trouble. There’s a reason he’s been doing this for as long as he has.”

Hayes singled in the first, hit an RBI double in the third for a 2-0 lead, singled in the fifth to chase Greinke and singled in the seventh against Taylor Hearn. Hayes is hitting .438 (21 for 48) since Aug. 9 with four doubles, four home runs and eight RBIs.

“I’ve been putting good at-bats together and hitting the ball hard,” Hayes said. “We were able to find some holes. It feels good whenever you can find a hole.”

Alfonso Rivas hit a run-scoring double-play grounder in the second first after Rodríguez’s leadoff single and walks to Jack Suwinski and Liover Peguero.

Andrew McCutchen and Joshua Palacios had RBI singles in the seventh off Hearn. and Rivas doubled in a run in the eighth against Jackson Kowar.

Lindor Becomes First Met With 20 Steals, 20 Homers Since 2008 as New York Beats Pirates 7-2

NEW YORK (AP) — Francisco Lindor became the first Met to reach 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases since 2008 as New York beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-2 on Monday night to win consecutive games for the first time in more than two weeks.

Jonathan Araúz hit a two-run homer while Daniel Vogelbach and Brandon Nimmo added solo homers as the Mets scored in each of the first six innings in a home game for the first time since June 25, 1987, against the Cubs. Pete Alonso added an RBI double that scored Nimmo from first base.

The Mets won consecutive games for the first time since July 27-28, right before they traded veterans Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander along with several others ahead of the trade deadline.

“Solid, everybody seemed to make a contribution,” New York manager Buck Showalter said.

Lindor singled off rookie Quinn Priester (2-2) in the third, doubled in the fifth and scored each time.

The shortstop scored on Jeff McNeil’s go-ahead RBI single after he advanced two bases on a passed ball and wild pitch in a span of two pitches. Lindor also stole his 20th base in the fifth when he swiped third and trotted home on McNeil’s sacrifice fly to give New York a 6-2 lead.

Lindor became the first Met to join the 20-20 club since Carlos Beltrán finished with 27 homers and 25 stolen bases in New York’s final season at Shea Stadium. Lindor reached the 20-20 club for the third time in his career after achieving the feat in 2018 and 2019 with Cleveland.

“You got to step back and go through rosters for 14 years and I’m sure it’ll really get your attention,” Showalter said. “Just another very quiet milestone he reaches to remind us all what a splendid player he is.”

Lindor’s milestone occurred after he entered the third hitless in 10 at-bats since missing Friday’s 7-0 loss to Atlanta due to an injury in his right side that ended his streak of consecutive games played at 223.

He said he did not realize he reached 20 steals until Vogelbach alerted him and credited first base coach Wayne Kirby.

“I thought I had like two more to get to 20 but it’s really cool whenever I get to be next to one of my role models growing up, someone I try to be like,” Lindor said. “It’s special for sure. I’m blessed to be in this position.”

It was the 19th time a Met reached the milestone and the first time a shortstop achieved it.

“He’s an unbelievable player and I’m glad to have him on my team,” Nimmo said.

Rookie Henry Davis hit an RBI single in his New York debut with several family and friends in the stands. The Westchester native went 1 for 3 and got picked off to end the first inning.

Ke’Bryan Hayes added an RBI double in the third as the Pirates lost for the 10th time in their last 12 trips to Citi Field.

Carlos Carrasco labored through three innings and allowed two runs and four hits. Tyson Miller (1-0) pitched two innings in his Mets’ debut and got his second career win.

After Hayes tied the game, Carrasco struck out Alfonso Rivas with the bases loaded. McNeil singled to left for a 3-2 lead.

Miller stranded two in the fourth and Araúz blasted a 1-2 pitch over the right-center field fence for his sixth career homer and third hit since joining the Mets.

Priester allowed six runs and seven hits in five innings.

“We left too many balls over the middle of the plate and when you do that, especially in advantage counts, we get hurt because of it,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said.

Liover Peugero’s Homer and Johan Oviedo’s Strong Pitching Lead Pirates over Tigers 4-1

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Rookie Liover Peguero hit a two-run home run and Johan Oviedo pitched seven strong innings to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 4-1 victory over the slumping Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night.

Peguero’s two-run home run to left-field bleachers capped a three-run second inning. The 3-0 lead was enough for Oviedo, who allowed one run while scattering six hits, striking out five and walking two.

Oviedo (5-11) has won back-to-back starts after losing eight consecutive decisions.

“Really big start,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “He threw 25 pitches in the first and bounced back and was really efficient after that. He was in command of his pitches the entire game. Really solid start.”

Rookie Endy Rodriguez tripled in a run in the second to open the scoring and scored on Peguero’s third home run in 10 games since being recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis.

“I’ve never been (in the major leagues) before so I feel the more reps I get, the better I’m going to get,” Peguero said. “I feel what’s giving me a rhythm right now is being patient at the plate, not trying to rush anything, just be fluid and try to put the best swing on every pitch.”

Another rookie, Alika Williams, had two hits for the Pirates. He doubled in a run in the fourth to push the lead to 4-0.

David Bednar pitched a perfect ninth inning for his 22nd save to close out the Pirates’ fourth win in five games. The Pittsburgh-area native had been the subject of trade rumors in recent weeks, but remained with the Pirates when baseball’s trade deadline passed Tuesday.

“Everybody knows how much I love it here and want to be here,” Bednar, a two-time All-Star said. “So, I’m happy.”

Matt Manning (3-3) remained winless in his last four starts. He gave up four runs and eight hits in six innings, struck out six and did not walk a batter.

“He made some mistakes and he paid for them,” Detroit manager A.J. Hinch said. “They won some at-bats early on a couple of loose breaking balls and they did some damage. In a game where we didn’t generate much offensively that was the separator.”

Akil Baddoo hit an RBI single for the Tigers, who lost for the sixth time in seven games.

Rookie Gonzales Homers and Triples in His Home Debut as The Pirates Beat The Padres 9-4

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Pirates used the seventh overall pick in the 2020 draft on Nick Gonzales in part because of the power he’s able to generate out of his slight 5-foot-9 frame.

Nearly three years later, that power is finally on display in the major leagues.

Gonzales tripled in the second inning for his first big league hit, and then drilled a 442-foot homer to center as the Pirates broke out of an extended funk with a 9-4 win over San Diego on Tuesday night.

Asked if he typically deposits a ball that far beyond the wall during batting practice, the 24-year-old just laughed and said: “I don’t hit many homers during BP, that’s for sure.”

Maybe that’s why Gonzales found himself staring a little longer than usual at the drive that reached the batter’s eye for his first major league homer.

“I wasn’t really sure where it would land,” he said. “Rounding first base, seeing it hit the wall was pretty cool.”

So was seeing the Pirates emerge from a 1-12 slide that dropped them from first to fourth in the NL Central, a freefall in which the offense failed to score more than three runs 10 times.

There were no such issues against San Diego spot starter Reiss Knehr (0-1) and three relievers. Pittsburgh racked up 16 hits and went 7 for 15 with runners in scoring position after going just 3 for 25 in that category while dropping three of four in Miami over the weekend.

Carlos Santana had three hits, including his seventh homer of the season. Andrew McCutchen collected three singles, rookie Henry Davis added two hits and outfielder Jack Suwinski ended an 0-for-29 funk by hitting a solo homer in the third.

“(To have) both Henry and Nick having good days, I think that’s really important,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said.

Rich Hill (7-7) put together six steady innings in the rain to improve to 7-1 in his last 11 starts against the Padres. Roansy Contreras worked three innings for his first major league save.

Stroman Runs His Winning Streak To 7, Helping The Cubs Beat The Pirates 4-0

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Marcus Stroman doesn’t pour over analytics. That’s simply not his style. The Chicago Cubs ace likes to think he gets by on confidence and elite stuff.

He’s got plenty of both at the moment.

Stroman limited the Pittsburgh Pirates to five hits over seven masterful innings in a 4-0 victory Tuesday night to push his personal winning streak to a career-best seven games, though he insists he’s not keeping track.

“I’m not someone who overanalyzes lineups,” Stroman said after improving to 9-4. “The last thing I want to do is be negative in any at-bat, in any moment. I don’t (ever) want to think that the hitter that I’m facing is better than I am. So I just attack.”

Stroman struck out five against one walk while shaving his ERA to 2.28, tops in the National League. He hasn’t lost in well over a month, a stretch in which his game plan is pretty much to listen to whatever catcher Tucker Barnhart calls and go from there.

“(He) allows me to be creative, allows me to see the game and play the game,” Barnhart said. “(It’s) like you’re in high school, you know … like playing a video game.”

Stroman used six efficient innings to beat Pittsburgh last week at Wrigley Field. He was even better at PNC Park. While the Pirates pecked away occasionally — putting at least one runner on base in five of Stroman’s seven innings of work — they never really came close to breaking through.

Pittsburgh’s best chance to make a game of it came in the seventh when Joe doubled with one out and Ji Hwan Bae walked two batters later. Pinch-hitter Cal Mitchell — called up from Triple-A Indianapolis earlier Tuesday — put together an eight-pitch at-bat that included a liner to the left-field corner that was foul by a foot or two. Stroman struck out Mitchell with a 93 mph sinker two pitches later to end the threat.

Stroman’s surge began with a 10-1 win over Philadelphia on May 19. He has a 1.29 ERA during a span that has helped the Cubs steady themselves during an otherwise erratic stretch in which they have struggled to gain momentum.

“I’d say he’s the MVP of our group so far,” Cubs manager David Ross said.

Barnhart hit his first home run of the season for the Cubs. Mike Tauchman homered for the second time in three games and Ian Happ added two hits against his hometown team as Chicago won for the seventh time in eight games after posting their ninth shutout of the season, tied for the most in the majors.

“We’re just playing good team baseball where all departments are carrying their weight and that puts for a good product and a good chance to win every single night,” Ross said.