PITTSBURGH (AP) – Josh Bell drove a ball into the Allegheny River on a bounce for his fifth homer, Wade LeBlanc pitched three strong innings after a lengthy rain delay and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Milwaukee Brewers 4-0 on Friday night.
Bell’s solo shot off reliever Rob Scahill (0-1) landed on the concourse behind the wall in right-center field at PNC Park then splashed into the river. Bell also doubled.
Gregory Polanco added two hits and drove in a run for the Pirates, who won for just the second time in six games.
LeBlanc (2-0) came on after a 2-hour, 27-minute rain delay and allowed just two hits in three innings. The reliever also picked up his first RBI since 2011 with a single off Scahill in the fifth.
Nick Franklin had three of Milwaukee’s seven hits. Scahill struggled in relief of starter Jimmy Nelson.
The Pirates are on a brief three-game homestand in the middle of a stretch in which they play 14 of 17 games on the road looking for some momentum after dropping three of four in Cincinnati.
Chad Kuhl took his regular turn in the rotation despite leaving his previous start after taking a ball off the knee against Miami. He breezed through three innings, giving up two hits and striking out two before the rain came.
Milwaukee starter Jimmy Nelson was even better, holding Pittsburgh hitless in three innings.
Pittsburgh wasted little time getting to Scahill, making his 2017 debut for the Brewers. Bell led off the fourth with a double, and Polanco singled him home two batters later. Polanco scored on an error by Milwaukee first baseman Eric Thames. LeBlanc came on later in the inning with the bases loaded and dumped a single into left field to score Francisco Cervelli for the pitcher’s first hit since May 1, 2013 and first RBI since Aug. 30, 2011.
Bell’s long home run made it 4-0 in the fifth. Milwaukee’s only real threat came in the seventh when they loaded the bases off Juan Nicasio. Felipe Rivero shattered Jonathan Villar’s bat to get an inning-ending fielders’ choice.
Milwaukee reliever Jared Hughes sprinted out to the mound and tossed a scoreless sixth in his first appearance at PNC Park since the Pirates cut him following a bumpy spring training.
Hughes spent 11 years in the Pirates organization, reaching the majors in 2011 and spending six seasons as a reliable middle reliever known for his sinker and furious dash to the mound.
The ride ended in March, when his 11.57 ERA and his struggles with his command cost him his job. Hughes didn’t stay out of work for long, quickly signing with Milwaukee at the start of the season.
That made it a little weird for Hughes when he crossed the Roberto Clemente Bridge in his first visit to PNC Park on Friday. He tried the usual entrance and was told he needed to use the side door reserved for the visiting team.
Hughes visited briefly with Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. Hughes was a favorite of Hurdle’s son Christian.
“I needed to make sure I could tell Christian ‘Jared sends his love, all good,'” Hurdle said.
Brewers: OF Ryan Braun had an MRI exam on his strained right arm in Milwaukee on Friday. The exam showed no structural damage. Braun will return to the team on Saturday and be available as a pinch hitter.
Pirates: Utility player Adam Frazier is getting closer to making a rehab appearance as he recovers from a strained left hamstring that’s kept him out since April 22.
Brewers: Matt Garza (1-0, 3.38 ERA) makes his third start of the season for Milwaukee. Garza is 3-6 with a 4.43 ERA in 13 starts against Pittsburgh.
Pirates: Gerrit Cole (1-3, 3.50 ERA) looks for his first win since April 14. Cole is 2-3 with a 3.77 ERA in seven starts against the Brewers.
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