Pirates lose game, series to Phillies on 11th-inning homer
The Pittsburgh Pirates had opportunities to win Sunday’s game in the ninth and 10th innings.
The Philadelphia Phillies just needed one swing to do it in the 11th.
Rhys Hoskins turned on a Chris Stratton curveball for a line-drive homer down the left-field line to lead off the 11th inning and hand the Pirates a 2-1 defeat, their seventh loss in nine post-All Star break games.
An inning earlier, Adam Frazier stood at third with one out after a leadoff double but was stranded there after Bryan Reynolds struck out and Starling Marte grounded out.
In the bottom of the ninth, Phillies closer Hector Neris hit two and intentionally walked another to load the bases. Elias Diaz squared up a splitter and pulled a liner to deep left, but it was right at Nick Williams.
Melky Cabrera, the only Pirates batter with two hits Sunday, reached via a one-out single in the 11th. However, he did not advance when pinch-hitter Jacob Stallings and Colin Moran each were caught looking at Ranger Suarez strikes to end the game.
“It’s tough,” said first baseman Josh Bell, who went 0 for 4 to drop to 4 for 36 over his past 11 games. “Tough loss today, tough go after the break.”
Before the game, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington would not commit to selling off the assets of his team that ended the day six games under .500 at 46-52.
Reynolds went 0 for 5 with four strikeouts. He combined with Diaz, Bell and the third base duo of Jung Ho Kang and Moran to go 0 for 17 on what was a forgettable offensive day for the Pirates. They had six hits, four (and no runs) in the final 10 innings.
“We just haven’t been able to get that traction that we’d like,” manager Clint Hurdle said.
The Pirates have scored 25 runs in nine game since the All-Star break. They had 56 in the seven immediately before the break.
“We’re not getting a string of hits, outside of (a 5-1 win Saturday), really, that we’d seen in the past,” Hurdle said, “the consecutive good at-bats, some extra-base hits, a home run here and there. None of that’s really happening.”
A bright spot was rookie Dario Agrazal, who continued to make his case to remain in the rotation even after a host of injured starters return. Agrazal’s ERA through five major league outings is 2.25. On Sunday, he had a career-high five strikeouts and allowed a career-low three hits. He gave up one run in six innings.
“I thought it was a very solid outing,” Hurdle said. “We got to incorporate a (25-minute) rain delay in there. New experiences …
“Fastball to four quadrants, used his changeup in fastball counts. He handled left-handed hitters very well.”
Bryce Harper was the only Phillie to reach second base against Agrazal. Harper doubled in the first and walked and scored in the fourth. After Harper tagged to get to second on a flyout, he scored on Cesar Hernandez’s single.
Other than that, Agrazal limited the Phillies — like he did the St. Louis Cardinals five days earlier — by inducing weak contact off a four-pitch mix, mostly a slider, sinker and changeup.
Agrazal’s five strikeouts almost matched the seven he had in his previous 22 major league innings combined.
“Just maintaining the attacking mentality,” Agrazal explained through interpreter Mike Gonzalez. “Locking in on the pitches, on hitting the zone, and making sure my mentality of attacking was continuous and consistent.”
Relievers Richard Rodriguez, Kyle Crick and Felipe Vazquez each worked a scoreless inning, allowing just one runner between them. Stratton (1-3) went two innings and allowed a hit in addition to the Hoskins homer.
Hurdle turned to a righty-heavy lineup against Drew Smyly, whom the Phillies signed over the weekend after he was released for the second time in 3½ weeks. Milwaukee let him go after three mediocre starts in Triple-A.
But the Pirates managed just one run on four hits in six innings against Smyly, who had an 8.42 ERA in 13 games (nine starts) with the Texas Rangers in 2019 after he missed almost two full years because of Tommy John surgery.
“Smyly had a good curveball going, which was something that … none of the guys had really seen, so we didn’t really have much to prepare off of,” Bell said. “(And a) good cutter/curveball combo. So you got to just give kudos to him, tip your cap.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .