PITTSBURGH -- Ivan Nova was honest: He didn't have his best stuff on Wednesday night. For the first time this season, the Pirates' right-hander didn't pitch into the sixth, but his teammates helped him out. The Bucs' lineup scored four runs in the first and their bullpen tossed four scoreless
PITTSBURGH -- Ivan Nova was honest: He didn't have his best stuff on Wednesday night. For the first time this season, the Pirates' right-hander didn't pitch into the sixth, but his teammates helped him out. The Bucs' lineup scored four runs in the first and their bullpen tossed four scoreless innings, lifting Pittsburgh to a 6-2 win over the Rays at PNC Park.
"Obviously not my best today," Nova said. "One of the guys told me, 'Don't feel bad because you throw five innings because a lot of the time, you go seven or eight and you don't get the win. You got the win today.' [My teammates] always find a way to make me feel good."
Nova had completed at least six innings in all 15 starts, but he labored from the beginning on Wednesday, needing 89 pitches to get through five frames. He gave up a run in the first and loaded the bases twice in the third. But Nova did his best to limit the damage, keeping the Rays to two runs on seven hits.
"I made a lot of pitches," Nova said, "but I made the right one when I needed to."
And the Pirates provided Nova with early run support. With Pittsburgh down 1-0, Jose Osuna tied the game in the first with an RBI ground-rule double en route to a four-run inning. Pirates first baseman Josh Bell homered in the fourth before Osuna doubled again in the fifth to push the lead to four.
Pittsburgh's bullpen made sure the Rays never threatened. After allowing the Rays to take the lead in extra innings on Tuesday night, Pirates relievers rebounded as the Rays collected just three hits in four innings.
"We didn't capitalize with guys on base," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Most of the time when we get those guys out on base, we are finding a way to put crooked numbers up. For whatever reason, we just didn't tonight."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Two-out rally: After two quick outs in the first, Andrew McCutchen and David Freese walked. Following Osuna's RBI double, Bell's walk and a wild pitch, Elias Diaz turned it into a big inning with a single to right field that scored two to give the Bucs a 4-1 lead.
"I liked our approach," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of the innings. "I liked our ability to have some ownership in the batter's box."
Big double play: With the score 6-2, Pirates reliever Tony Watson encountered trouble in the seventh, giving up two hits that placed runners on first and third with one out. It was the Rays' best chance to rally, but Watson escaped the jam by inducing an inning-ending double play off the bat of Wilson Ramos.
"It's a pretty crazy scenario, but it just expresses that importance of being a good person on and off the field and baseball not being the most important thing. I am definitely thankful for him to take that initiative. It's a crazy world out there, a lot going on. But we are thankful to be able to play the game. I just hope that lady is safe now and in a better spot." -- Bell, on home-plate umpire John Tumpane talking a woman off the edge of a bridge before Wednesday's game
"That's a guy who hasn't played a lot in the last couple of days, and he comes in to play today, and to have a game like today is pretty special." -- Nova, on Osuna's two-hit, two-RBI game
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Bell supplied the Pirates with an insurance run in fourth by muscling a 0-1 fastball that barely cleared the left-field wall. It had an exit velocity of 91.6 mph, a launch angle of 28 degrees and traveled a projected 340 feet, according to Statcast™. It was his 15th home run of the season, tying him with Ralph Kiner (1946) for the most first-half home runs by a Pirates rookie.
"[It's cool] to be mentioned in the same sentence of a great like that," Bell said. "Hopefully there are more to come. I am going to just keep trucking along."
Rays:Chris Archer will get the call for the Rays in the series finale against the Pirates at 7:05 p.m. ET on Thursday at PNC Park. Archer received plenty of run support in a 15-5 win over the O's. The offense took care of the righty, who wasn't at his best: He gave up five runs (four earned) in six innings. Archer also had a season-low four strikeouts.
Pirates:Jameson Taillon will start for the Pirates in the series finale against the Rays. Taillon threw six strong innings and struck out seven on Friday while holding the Cardinals to two runs on four hits at Busch Stadium. Since undergoing surgery for testicular cancer, Taillon has posted a 3.38 ERA in three starts.
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Jonathan Toye is a reporter for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh and covered the Rays on Wednesday.
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.