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.

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