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Thursday November 15 2018
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Pirates bullpen stops Padres in their tracks

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The Pirates’ bullpen came to the rescue again as the Pirates beat the San Diego Padres 5-4 Thursday night.

After starter Chad Kuhl was roughed up and eventually pulled in the fifth inning, the bullpen recorded 4.2 scoreless innings of relief to pick up their starter. Steven Brault lead the way with 2.1 innings of work, while Edgar Santana got the final out of the seventh to pick up his second career win, which was also his second win in as many days.

Michael Feliz tossed a scoreless eighth to hold the lead and Felipe Vazquez struck out the side to pick up his ninth save of the year.

After a rough first two weeks for the relievers, the bullpen has stabilized over the past month and change. Since Apr. 12, the Bucs’ bullpen has a combined 2.56 ERA with 132 strikeouts and just 34 walks, all of which are in the top five best in baseball in that time frame.

“We’ve got  really good starting rotation, a really good bullpen. We’re a force. It’s fun to be a part of,” Brault said.

The Padres bled Kuhl for two runs in the third inning on a run scoring infield single by Travis Jankowski and a fielder’s choice by Eric Hosmer. Run scoring doubles by Corey Dickerson and Sean Rodriguez and a sacrifice fly by David Freese gave the Pirates a 3-2 lead in the fourth.

Hosmer doubled home two in the fifth to chase Kuhl in the fifth, but the Pirates got him off the hook in the home half of the inning on Josh Bell’s RBI single. A seventh inning, two-out error by third baseman Christian Villanueva on a Dickerson batted ball allowed Gregory Polanco to score the game winner.

Kuhl’s night ended with a line of 4.1 innings pitched, six hits, two walks, five strikeouts and four earned runs on his ledger. He threw 11 first pitch strikes to the 20 batters he faced and retired five on three pitches or less.

Padres’ starter Eric Lauer went 4.2 innings of four run ball. Matt Strahm takes the loss to fall to 0-1 after allowing one unearned run.

The San Diego Kid

Brault is a San Diego native and grew up rooting for the Padres. While pitching against them would be a dream come true for most, it did not even cross his mind until after the game.

"I kind of forgot about that part because I had enough nerves going on for the actual situation,” Brault said. “Now, reflecting on that, it’s pretty sweet."

Brault got to bat in the bottom of the sixth, ripping an opposite field double, which was somewhat reminiscent of his favorite player growing up: Tony Gwynn.

As coincidence would have it, the Pirates have two other pitchers who call San Diego their hometown: Trevor Williams (who is scheduled to start Sunday) and Joe Musgrove.

On Deck

Ivan Nova (2-3, 5.01) will try to right the ship Friday at 705 p.m., squaring off against Tyson Ross (3.40). Top Pirates prospect Austin Meadows will be promoted before the game, as first reported by The Athletic’s Rob Biertempfel.

NUMB3RS

1. The Pirates have won nine of Kuhl’s last 11 home starts.

2. The Pirates are 6-0 in one run games at PNC Park.

3. Polanco has recorded an extra-base hit in six of his last seven games. He also has a .917 OPS in May.

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