The Pittsburgh Pirates blew a pair of leads as they surrendered four home runs, including a pair of three-run shots, in a 12-9 exhibition loss to the Houston Astros on Monday night at Minute Maid Park.
The Pirates got off to a hot start against Houston’s Forrest Whitley in the first inning. Adam Frazier hit a leadoff single to right field, advanced to third on Starling Marte’s double to deep right and scored on an error in center by Kemp for a 1-0 lead. Francisco Cervelli crushed a home run 405 feet to left to drive in Josh Bell to make it 3-0.
The Astros turned that into a 7-3 lead with a seven-run third inning, when Keone Kela gave up four runs on a single and three walks and Geoff Hartlieb surrendered a 382-foot, three-run homer to left field by designated hitter Tyler White.
But the Pirates answered with a five-run sixth off Framber Valdez, thanks to Melky Cabrera’s RBI single, Frazier’s two-run double, a sacrifice fly by Marte and an RBI single by Corey Dickerson to make it 8-7. Right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall was removed after being hit by a Valdez pitch in the right hand and was replaced by Bryan Reynolds.
After Tony Kemp doubled to left and Jake Marisnick walked, Nick Tanielu hit a three-run homer, a 394-foot shot to left field off Alex McRae for a 10-8 lead in the sixth inning. Garrett Stubbs and Myles Straw hit back-to-back homers off McRae in the seventh to make it 12-8.
Kevin Newman hit a leadoff triple in the eighth and scored on a Pablo Reyes sacrifice fly to right to cut it to 12-9. J.B. Shuck followed with a double and Patrick Kivlehan with a single to left-center, but Shuck was thrown out at home.
Brandon Maurer is expected to start for the Pirates against right-hander J.B. Bukauskas when the Pirates play the Astros at 2:10 p.m. Tuesday in the final exhibition game. Tyler Lyons and Eduardo Vera also are expected to pitch for the Pirates.