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Bell's change in lumber leads to win

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Josh Bell bookended the Pirates’ offense Friday, doubling and homering after a two hour and 27 minute rain delay in the Bucs’ 4-0 win over the Brewers.

While he raked after play resumed, his skipper did not know what he was doing from 7:59 to 10:26.

“He might have played ping-pong, I don’t know,” Clint Hurdle said.

Bell was not playing ping-pong. He was playing Big Game Hunter in the game room. For most of the delay, he played the game, cracked jokes and did what he could to pass the time.

Before the game started, he took six cuts off the tee, had a quick conversation with Gregory Polanco and went back to first.

Bell credited the home run to using a bigger bat: a 35/32. He used a 34/31 in Cincinnati for the previous series, but he felt it was throwing his timing off, so he went back to the bat size he used in 2016.

“I’m still fine tuning where I was last year when I was going off,” Bell said. “...just trying to get away from being long in my initial move towards the ball.”

After a slow start, Bell started to heat up later in April, going 10-31 with four home runs from the 19th to the 30th. After a 3-15 series against the Reds, the bat change may get Bell back on track.

“It’s a work in progress, but this game shows that it’s taking steps in the right direction,” Bell said.

Polanco opened the scoring in the fourth with an RBI single to plate Bell. He came around on a throwing error by Eric Thames later in the frame, and Wade LeBlanc singled home Francisco Cervelli to cap the three run frame. Bell one-hopped the river in the fifth to make it 4-0.

With the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh, Hurdle went to Felipe Rivero to face Jonathan Villar. Rivero shattered Villar’s bat on a 98.4 MPH fastball to get the inning ending groundout.

Chad Kuhl looked sharp in his three innings, only allowing a pair of singles and striking out a pair. He started seven of his 11 batters with a strike and retired six on three pitches or less. Wade LeBlanc tossed three scoreless innings to earn the win (2-0). Juan Nicasio went 0.2 innings, relieved by Rivero getting four outs. Hudson finished the game in a non-save situation.

Jimmy Nelson tossed three no-hit innings before also being forced out by the rain. Rob Scahill (0-1) took over in the fourth and allowed four runs- two earned- in two innings.

“Maybe we should start the game at 10:30 every night and I might end up hitting .800”- Bell on his late night hits.

Wade LeBlanc: W, 3 IP, 2 H, 2 K

Gerrit Cole (1-3, 3.50) will try to get back in the win column against Matt Garza (1-0, 3.38) Saturday at 7:05 p.m..

1. Polanco’s RBI single in the fourth was his third hit with a runner in scoring position this season (3-18).

2. Andrew McCutchen failed to reach base for the first time since April 10, snapping a streak of 23 straight games. That was the second longest streak in baseball.

3. LeBlanc’s fourth inning single was his first hit since May 1, 2013 and his first RBI since Aug. 31, 2011.

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