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Pirates rebound for much-needed win over Braves on Friday night

Bailey Falter took a shutout into the eighth inning, and second baseman Nick Gonzales drove in four runs, as the Pirates defeated the Braves,11-5, in the first game of a weekend series at PNC Park on Friday night.

Pittsburgh built an 11-0 lead and managed to keep the game a semi-blowout despite another shaky performance by the bullpen. In this case, Luis Ortiz, who gave up two runs on one hit and two walks over the final one-and-two-thirds innings after relieving Falter with one out in the eighth.

Falter had shut out the Braves on five hits through seven innings before getting into a bit of trouble in the top of the eighth. He sandwiched a single and a walk around a fly-out to shortstop, before Ronald Acuna, the reigning National League MVP, launched a three-run homer to center field to give Atlanta its first runs of the game.

While there were some feelings of uneasiness during the top of the eighth inning, the Pirates diverted another disastrous finish and gave Bailey his third victory of the season and first since April 23.

The offense was just too productive to fail on Friday night. In addition to Gonzales’s four RBI, catcher Yasmani Grandal, back in the starting lineup after missing a couple of games due to a groin injury, doubled home two runs in the bottom of the third inning to extend Pittsburgh’s lead to 5-0. Third baseman Jared Triolo launched a two-run home run to center field in the bottom of the fifth inning to give the Buccos a 7-0 advantage.

After starting the scoring onslaught with a two-run single in the bottom of the first inning, Gonzales plated two more runs with a double in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Rightfielder Edward Olivares also contributed with two RBI, while centerfielder Michael A. Taylor capped the Pirates’ scoring with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh inning.

The uneasiness in the top of the eighth inning stemmed from the Pirates blowing huge leads and losing back-to-back games to the Giants at PNC Park on Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon, respectively.

Jared Jones and Paul Skenes, the Pirates’ talented, young starters, both pitched solid games vs. San Francisco, but their efforts were wasted thanks to the continued struggles of a bullpen that was supposed to be the strength of the team at the beginning of the season.

Thankfully, Falter, who has been the model of consistency after a rough outing to begin the season, was able to last long enough that the bullpen was only tasked with getting the final five outs.

As for the offense, Gonzales continues to be the shot in the arm that the lineup desperately needs and now has 13 RBI in 14 games since being called up from triple-A Indianapolis.

The Pirates are now 24-28 and will try to capture the second game of this weekend series, as Mitch Keller takes the mound for a 4:05 start at PNC Park on Saturday afternoon.


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