The Red Sox were unable to complete a three-game sweep over the Pirates on Thursday night. Boston fell to Pittsburgh by a final score of 4-2 at PNC Park, thus marking the end of its three-game winning streak.
Josh Winckowski made his 12th start of the season for the Sox after Nathan Eovaldi was scratched due to trap soreness. The rookie right-hander allowed six earned runs on seven hits and one walk to go along with just two strikeouts over five innings of work.
The Pirates got to Winckowski right away in the first inning. After Kevin Newman reached base on a one-out single, Bryan Renolds crushed a two-run home run to give his side an early 2-0 lead for the second night in a row.
Winckowski managed to retire the side in order in the second, but ran into more trouble in the third by giving up back-to-back two-out singles to Newman and Reynolds. Ben Gamel followed by lacing a two-run double over Tommy Pham’s glove in deep left field, scoring both Newman and Reynolds to make it a 4-0 ballgame.
The Newman-Reynolds combination got to Winckowski again in the fifth, as the former ripped a one-out single to center field before the latter clubbed another two-run home run. Reynolds’ 20th homer of the season gave Pittsburgh a commanding 6-0 lead. Winckowski’s night came to an end after he recorded the final out of the fifth.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 83 (53 strikes), Winckowski managed to induce just six swings-and-misses while averaging 94.1 mph with his four-seam fastball. The 24-year-old hurler was ultimately charged with the loss and saw his ERA on the season rise to 5.19.
In relief of Winckowski, Austin Davis received the first and only call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora. The left-hander surrendered two runs, both of which came in the bottom of the sixth inning.
After issuing a one-out walk to Greg Allen, Davis gave up an RBI double to the pinch-hitting Michael Chavis (who he was traded for last July). Chavis proceeded to score from second on an RBI single off the bat of Tyler Heineman, which made it a 8-0 contest in favor of the Pirates.
It took until the seventh inning for the Sox to put a runner in scoring position. After being completely held in check by Pirates starter J.T. Brubaker, Alex Verdugo advanced to second base with one out in the seventh on a throwing error by shortstop Oneil Cruz.
Verdugo was stranded at second in the seventh, but the Boston bats finally got on the board in the eighth. Reese McGuire and Bobby Dalbec greeted new reliever Zach Thompson with back-to-back one-out singles. Jarren Duran then drew an eight-pitch walk to fill the bases for Pham, who plated McGuire on a chopper to third base.
Rafael Devers promptly drove in Dalbec on a sacrifice fly to center field before Xander Bogaerts re-loaded the bases by drawing another walk off Manny Banuelos. But Verdugo struck out on six pitches to extinguish the threat.
Down to their final three outs in the ninth, J.D. Martinez, Christian Arroyo, and McGuire went down quietly against Colin Holderman to wrap up another lifeless defeat in which the Red Sox tallied just five hits. None of those hits went for extra-bases.
With the loss, Boston drops to 58-59 on the season and 8-10 in interleague play.
Next up: Baltimore awaits
The Red Sox will next travel to Balitmore to take on the Orioles in a three-game weekend series that concludes in Williamsport, Pa. with the annual Little League Classic on Sunday night. Kutter Crawford is slated to get the ball for Boston in Friday’s opener while fellow right-hander Jordan Lyles is expected to do the same for Baltimore.
First pitch from Camden Yards is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Josh Winckowski: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)