Mitch Keller outpitches Sonny Gray as Pirates beat Twins 7-4

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Mitch Keller struck out 12 in six innings, and the Pittsburgh Pirates eventually got to Minnesota’s Sonny Gray in a 7-4 victory over the Twins on Saturday night.

Gray retired his first 16 batters before Liover Peguero reached on an infield single with one out in the sixth. Peguero came around to score on Andrew McCutchen’s bases-loaded single with two down, and Ke’Bryan Hayes put Pittsburgh in front with an RBI single.

McCutchen added a three-run drive in the ninth. It was McCutchen’s 11th homer.

“Sometimes you get a little ground-ball base hit, and then Delay gets a jam-shot base hit and it kind of opened up from there,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “But I was proud of them because they stayed with it.”

Keller (10-8) provided some time for Pittsburgh’s lineup with another quality start. He was charged with two runs and seven hits.

After allowing at least six runs in three of his first four starts after the All-Star break, Keller has surrendered six earned runs over his past 17 innings. He earned his first win since June 28 against San Diego.

Keller said throwing his cutter harder has led to the recent turnaround.

“We went back and watched a few starts (from earlier this season) and yeah, that was the difference,” he said. “I just kind of needed to see that for myself. Like, ‘Alright, I need to stop trying to manipulate this pitch and just throw it hard, and let the action take care of itself.’”

David Bednar surrendered a run but got four outs for his 26th save.

Gray (6-6) struck out seven in 6 2/3 innings. He was charged with four runs and four hits.

The veteran right-hander went 2-1 with a 1.89 ERA in his first three August starts.

“It just kind of got away from me there a little bit,” Gray said. “But I felt good throughout. The ending was just a little unfortunate.”


McCutchen said the shadows and reflections in the stadium for the 6 p.m. local start were an issue and provided an advantage to the pitchers.

“On top of shadows, he was on,” McCutchen said of Gray. “So, we just had to keep going up there and grinding. That’s what we did.”


McCutchen now has 761 RBIs with Pittsburgh. He passed Dave Parker for ninth on the team’s career RBIs leaderboard. Next on the list for McCutchen is Arky Vaughan with 767 RBIs. Willie Stargell is the leader with 1,540.

“I think we know what Cutch means to this franchise and he’s passing some guys that are elite players,” Shelton said. “You don’t pass Dave Parker. Dave Parker was a great player and, in my opinion, should be a Hall of Famer.”


Pirates: RHP Colin Holderman came out of the game in the seventh with muscle cramps in his right arm. Shelton said the team didn’t want Holderman to continue to pitch with the cramp and let it lead to a more serious injury.

Twins: OF Matt Wallner was in the original lineup a day after being hit in the hand by a pitch but was scratched as he deals with continued soreness. Tests didn’t show any signs of a fracture and manager Rocco Baldelli said Wallner has soreness and swelling. … C Ryan Jeffers missed a second straight game with back soreness, though Baldelli said Jeffers has shown signs of improvement.


LHP Dallas Keuchel (0-1, 9.45 ERA) is scheduled to start Sunday’s series finale for Minnesota. Pittsburgh will go with RHP Osvaldo Bido (2-3, 5.05 ERA).



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