Grapefruit League Game 9: Pittsburgh Pirates 4, Philadelphia Phillies 3

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 21: Ivan Nova
BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 21: Ivan Nova /
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The Pittsburgh Pirates played game 9 of 33 on their Grapefruit League schedule on Saturday afternoon

The Pittsburgh Pirates are now 2-5-2 in Grapefruit League play. This comes as the result of a 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies at LECOM Park in Bradenton on Saturday afternoon.

Veteran righty Ivan Nova made the start for the Pirates on Saturday. This was Nova’s second outing of the Grapefruit League season. In 3 innings pitched on Saturday, Nova fanned a trio while allowing a run on a solo home run and a pair of singles.

The long ball continues to be a problem for Nova. After allowing 29 home runs last season, Nova has already allowed a pair of home runs in just 5 innings pitched this spring.

Following Nova, George Kontos pitched the top of the 4th inning. In a strong inning of work Kontos retired the side in order, including a pair of strikeouts. Lefty Josh Smoker then followed Kontos and allowed a single while recording a strikeout in a scoreless inning of work.

In the bottom of the 5th inning the Pirates would finally get on the board. After drawing a walk, Sean Rodriguez went to third on a Jordy Mercer single. Rodriguez would then score on a wild pitch by Phillies’ pitcher Franklyn Kilome. This tied the game at 1.

After Edgar Santana tossed a scoreless top of the 6th inning, he returned to the mound for the top of the 7th. However, after allowing a pair of doubles Santana was lifted for non-roster invitee John Stilson who got the final out of the inning. This final out did not come before the Phillies had taken a 3-1 lead, though.

In 1 2/3 innings pitched on Saturday, Santana allowed a pair of runs on 4 hits and no strikeouts.

In the bottom of the 7th inning the Pirates would score a trio of runs to take the lead for the first time. A Jacob Stallings single followed by a 2-out Kevin Newman doubled cut the Philly lead to 3-2. Jose Osuna then launched his first home run of the spring to give the Bucs a 4-3 lead they would not relinquish.

After Kyle Crick pitched a scoreless 8th inning, non-roster invitee Brett McKinney pitched the top of the 9th inning. McKinney would go on to strikeout the side in order to close out the 4-3 Bucco victory.

Notable offensive performances on Saturday included Josh Harrison going 0-for-3, David Freese going 1-for-1 with a walk, Bryce Brentz going 0-for-1 with a walk, Francisco Cervelli and Josh Bell going 0-for-2, and Jose Osuna going 1-for-1 with a walk and his home run.

New left fielder Corey Dickerson made his Pittsburgh Pirates debut on Saturday. The left-handed hitting slugger went 0-for-2 in the game.

Next: Who should get the final Pirate bench spot?

Next up for the Pirates is a matchup against the team they will face in their home opener on April 2nd – the Minnesota Twins. First pitch from CenturyLink Sports Complex in Fort Myers is scheduled for 1:05 on Sunday afternoon. Jameson Taillon will start for the Pirates in his second Grapefruit League appearance.

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