D-backs’ offense awakens late, bullpen dominant in win vs. Pirates
May 20, 2023, 3:51 PM | Updated: 6:45 pm
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
Pavin Smith’s clutch two-run blast in the seventh inning and a stellar bullpen performance lifted the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 4-3 victory on Saturday against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.
Arizona (26-20) evened the three-game set with the victory, one in which the offense took a while to get going.
The D-backs collected one hit over the first five innings against Pirates starter Mitch Keller: a solo shot by Ketel Marte in the first.
Out in a hurry from Ketel Marte! pic.twitter.com/s8y4Q5LkUs
— MLB (@MLB) May 20, 2023
From there, Keller retired 16 D-backs in a row until he plunked Josh Rojas, which led to a two-out rally.
Marte — who extended his on-base streak to 20 games — hit an infield single, the two runners stole the next respective base and Corbin Carroll singled in Rojas.
Pirates infielder Tucupita Marcano dove to knock down Carroll’s grounder to hold Marte at third and keep a 3-2 lead.
Keller entered the game with a 16-inning scoreless streak and finished with six frames, two earned runs and eight punch outs, six in the first three innings. Pirates manager Derek Shelton removed him after 84 pitches.
After Keller departed, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. singled, leading to Smith’s opportunity against Pirates reliever Robert Stephenson. Smith homered for the first time since April 19 to grab the 4-3 lead.
Pavin Smith with the 2-run homer, taking the lead! pic.twitter.com/fzRkdu3klU
— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) May 20, 2023
“We did a good job getting Keller out after six by grinding a couple of runs against him,” Smith said postgame.
“Lourdes gets a leadoff single and then I just tried to keep things simple. (Stephenson) threw me a lot of sliders but I felt he was going to have to come into the zone with a fastball and I was able to put a good swing on it.”
Arizona’s Brandon Pfaadt made his fourth MLB start and found himself in trouble early. He escaped a two-on, two-out jam in the first, but walks costed the rookie in the third.
After a pair of runners reached base on balls, Pirates third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes sent a deep fly ball to right with two outs.
Smith leaped near the wall but the ball went off his glove and dropped for a three-run triple. Hayes drove in three runs in a 13-3 win over Arizona on Friday, as well.
Pfaadt lasted 5.2 inning and only allowed the three runs, striking out three with six hits allowed on 85 pitches in the game.
The righty entered Saturday coming off his most impactful MLB start on Sunday when he allowed one run and one hit in five innings against the San Francisco Giants.
The D-backs turned to Kyle Nelson first out of the bullpen for three outs before calling on righty Austin Adams, whom Arizona called up on Saturday to replace the injured Anthony Misiewicz (calf).
Adams last pitched in the majors on April 12, 2022. He missed most of last season, needing surgery to repair a flexor tendon in his arm.
He collected a pair of outs to get to the eighth inning.
Andrew Chafin and Miguel Castro locked the door over the final two frames.
The bullpen overall tossed 3.2 scoreless innings with one hit allowed.
“We compete no matter what the circumstances are,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “We don’t shut down. That’s one of the great characteristics of this team. There’s always max effort, max engagement.
“Their starting pitcher is very good, but we kept it within striking distance and got some clutch hitting.”
Veteran RHP Zach Davies was sent on a rehab assignment to Double-A Amarillo to start Saturday’s game. He had been pitching in the Arizona Complex League while working back from an oblique strain.
The D-backs go for a third straight series victory on Sunday before they head to Philadelphia to face the Phillies.
Merrill Kelly will take the hill against Pittsburgh’s Roansy Contreras at 10:35 a.m. Kelly has a 1.19 ERA in four road starts this season.
Catch the game on 98.7, the Arizona Sports app and ArizonaSports.com.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.