Pittsburgh, Bell cut down Philadelphia
PHILADELPHIA — Josh Bell didn’t let a defensive miscue get him down. He just made up for it with his bat.
Bell homered, doubled and drove in three runs, and Gregory Polanco had four hits with a home run and two RBIs to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 6-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday night.
Andrew McCutchen added three hits with two doubles for the Pirates, who have won three straight.
Bell made up for his third-inning defensive gaffe with a two-run homer in the fourth before a go-ahead RBI double in the eighth.
“I think he did what you need to do,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He got back in the moment in what he could do to help his team win a ballgame.”
Philadelphia went up 1-0 when Andrew Knapp scored from first base after Bell wasn’t paying attention on catcher Elias Diaz’s pickoff attempt.
“Diaz made a perfect pickoff throw and I’ve never seen that play before,” Hurdle said.
The ball went all the way to the right-field corner. Bell was distracted as Andres Blanco’s bat went flying out of his hands and into the stands on the play.
“It stunk,” Bell said. “My initial feeling was, ‘Thank God it didn’t hit me because Diaz throws like 100 (mph).'”
Pirates starter Chad Kuhl provided encouragement in between innings, and Bell responded with his 16th homer to set a Pirates record for homers by a rookie before the All-Star break.
“(Kuhl) picked me up and said, ‘Love you bud,'” Bell said. “And I said, ‘I’m going to get it back for you.’ And I was able to in the next (at-bat), so it was a cool situation.”
Kuhl (3-6) allowed three runs — two earned — and six hits in a career-high seven innings.
Juan Nicasio pitched a perfect ninth for his first save.
After Bell’s homer made it 2-1, two batters later Polanco lined starter Jeremy Hellickson’s changeup into the seats in right to give the Pirates a two-run lead. Bell later broke a 3-all tie in the eighth with a double off Joaquin Benoit (1-3) that scored the go-ahead run.
Aaron Altherr had two hits and two RBIs for the Phillies.
Altherr tied it at 3 in the seventh with a two-run single. However, he was thrown out at second base trying to stretch the single into a double. It was the second time that happened to Altherr and the third time to a Phillie in the game. Odubel Herrera was caught trying to reach second right after Altherr in the second inning.
“If those were closer plays, it wouldn’t have been a big deal,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “But when you’re out by that much, I think they should’ve shut it down.”
Left fielder Jose Osuna got an assist on all three plays. The last time the Pirates had three assists by an outfielder was 1991 when Cecil Espy did it.
The game was delayed 47 minutes at the start by rain and was played under a persistent drizzle for most of the night.
A crowd of 33,059 sat through the weather in anticipation of postgame fireworks. Whether by accident or not, some fireworks were shot off with one out in the top of the seventh causing reliever Pat Neshek to step off the mound until they were finished.
Hellickson allowed three runs and five hits with four strikeouts and no walks in six innings in what could have been one of his last starts for the Phillies before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Despite six hits and three walks, the Phillies didn’t leave any runners on base. According to the Phillies, it was just the 16th time since at least 1913 that has occurred.
Pittsburgh’s relievers pitched 11 scoreless innings in the four-game series, allowing five hits with 13 strikeouts and three walks.
Pirates: Bell was drilled in the lower back on Altherr’s throw from right field as he was sliding into second in the eighth inning. After some assistance from the trainer, he remained in the game and said afterward he was fine.
Phillies: Rookie OF Nick Williams was not in the lineup a day after crashing hard into the wall in right field, but he lined out to left field as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning.
Pirates: Pittsburgh opens a three-game series at the Cubs on Friday. RHP Trevor Williams (3-3, 4.67) pitches for the Pirates against RHP Eddie Butler (4-3, 4.18). Williams is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in three appearances, including one start, against the Cubs this season.
Phillies: Philadelphia opens a three-game home set against San Diego on Friday night with RHP Nick Pivetta (2-4, 4.85) facing Padres LHP Clayton Richard (5-8, 4.85).