|4:05 PM PT5:05 PM MT6:05 PM CT7:05 PM ET19:05 ET23:05 GMT7:05 4:05 PM MST6:05 PM EST6:35 PM VEN3:05 UAE (+1)6:05 PM CT, June 5, 2019
PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Attendance: 13,904
Pirates turn to Musgrove after blowing another game
Atlanta and Pittsburgh are meeting for the first time this season, and the Braves seem to have caught the Pirates at a vulnerable time.
The visiting Braves won the series opener 12-5 Tuesday at PNC Park, Atlanta's third straight win.
Pittsburgh has lost 11 of 15 and is three games below .500 for the first time this season after losing despite leading Tuesday through six innings -- the eighth time the Pirates lost a late advantage this season.
Injuries and ineffectiveness among both the starters and the bullpen are gutting the Pirates, who have given up 97 runs over their past 12 games, an average of 8.1 per contest.
After 27 games in 27 days, the Pirates had a day off Monday, but that didn't prove to be a useful respite.
And after starting all 58 games at cleanup through Sunday and being named the National League Player of the Month for May, Pittsburgh first baseman Josh Bell got an extra day off Tuesday.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told reporters it was just a matter of rest with Bell and "we'll reignite him (Wednesday)."
The series opener Tuesday was the first game in a stretch of seven games between the clubs over 10 days.
The Braves are 6-1 against the Pirates dating to the start of last season, including 4-0 at PNC Park.
On Wednesday, Atlanta right-hander Kevin Gausman (2-4, 5.56 ERA) is scheduled to face Pittsburgh righty Joe Musgrove (3-6, 4.57).
Gausman is coming off his roughest outing of the season, when he gave up eight runs and eight hits in one-plus innings May 29 in a 14-4 loss against Washington.
How bad was his outing, when he retired three of 13 batters? Never before in Braves history had a starter allowed at least eight hits and eight earned runs in (officially) one inning or less.
"The only positive was maybe I got the bad one out of the way," Gausman said. "I feel like I've been throwing the ball pretty well. So I'll try not to get too discouraged."
Before that meltdown, he had allowed three runs or fewer and completed six innings in each of his three previous starts.
Gausman is 1-1 with a 4.01 ERA in four career starts against the Pirates. The last time he pitched in Pittsburgh, Aug. 21 of last season, he threw eight scoreless, four-hit innings.
Meanwhile, just as the Pirates really needed their few healthy starters to step up, Musgrove has sputtered lately. He has lost his past two starts and was 2-4 with an 8.10 ERA in six starts in May.
On Thursday, he gave up 11 hits and five runs in six innings of an 11-5 loss against Milwaukee. Musgrove gave up three homers to the Brewers after opponents hit just two off him in his first 59 innings.
"It's really hard to work when you're behind in the count. I don't get the same swings," Musgrove said. "That's where it all starts, then the execution with two strikes. I'm getting guys to two strikes, then not making good pitches."
Against Milwaukee, Musgrove finished his outing with three scoreless innings, and he did give Pittsburgh something it has desperately needed from its starters -- length.
"I'm a competitor, man. I'm going to give you everything I have until you take the ball away," he said.
Musgrove is 1-0 with a 4.63 ERA in two career starts against Atlanta, both in 2017 while he was with Houston.
--Field Level Media
Updated June 5, 2019