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'Weird' sixth inning costs Bucs in first loss of '18

MLB.com @adamdberry

PITTSBURGH -- Most days, it might have been a harmless popout. But in the sixth inning on Wednesday night, Eddie Rosario's high, mishit popup sailed into the snow swirling above PNC Park. Catcher Francisco Cervelli lost sight of it. Ivan Nova never saw it. By the time first baseman Josh Bell tracked the ball, it was too late.

Rosario's pop fly landed about 10 feet in front of home plate, allowed Brian Dozier to advance to third base and proved to be a pivotal play as the Twins rallied for four runs and went on to hand the Pirates a 7-3 loss, Pittsburgh's first of the season.

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PITTSBURGH -- Most days, it might have been a harmless popout. But in the sixth inning on Wednesday night, Eddie Rosario's high, mishit popup sailed into the snow swirling above PNC Park. Catcher Francisco Cervelli lost sight of it. Ivan Nova never saw it. By the time first baseman Josh Bell tracked the ball, it was too late.

Rosario's pop fly landed about 10 feet in front of home plate, allowed Brian Dozier to advance to third base and proved to be a pivotal play as the Twins rallied for four runs and went on to hand the Pirates a 7-3 loss, Pittsburgh's first of the season.

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"It definitely didn't help our cause," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

The inning began with Nova walking Dozier, who then took second base on a wild pitch. Rosario's popup then landed in fair territory -- in between Cervelli and Bell and behind Nova -- and Bell recovered in time to throw him out at first. But it was not quickly enough for the Pirates to stop Dozier from sliding safely into third base.

"I never found it. [Cervelli] didn't find it. I didn't find it. [Bell] didn't find it," Nova said. "It was a tough, tough fly ball."

With a one-run lead, a runner on third and nobody out, the Bucs brought their over-shifted infield in as Miguel Sano stepped to the plate. Sano promptly smacked a game-tying, ground-ball single against the shift and into shallow right field.

Video: MIN@PIT: Sano hits an RBI single through the shift

"If you catch that ball, the guy doesn't advance to third base," Nova said. "If that ball doesn't find that hole with the infield in, I feel really good about the pitch that I made. The ball found a hole."

Then Twins first baseman Logan Morrison, 0-for-13 to start the season, lined a double into the right-field corner. Sano scored, and with Nova having thrown 81 pitches, Hurdle turned to his bullpen.

"It was a weird inning," Hurdle said, "and I didn't see it getting any less weird."

Video: PIT@MIN: Twins run away with game with four-run 6th

It didn't get any better for the Pirates, either. Eduardo Escobar and Byron Buxton doubled against reliever Dovydas Neverauskas, giving the Twins a 6-3 lead. Minnesota tacked on another run in the seventh against right-hander Tyler Glasnow and split the two-game series.

Making the defeat more disappointing, the Pirates let two leads slip away. Bell crushed a two-run homer off Jake Odorizzi in the first to put them on top. After Minnesota tied it up, Colin Moran slapped a go-ahead single to right field off Odorizzi in the fourth. That lead came undone in the sixth, however.

Video: MIN@PIT: Moran hits an RBI single to right

"I was throwing the ball [well] until that inning," said Nova, who allowed five runs on five hits over 5 1/3 innings. "You get the lead a couple times, you've got to do a better job than what I did in that inning."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Ring it: The Pirates jumped out to a quick lead against Odorizzi. Josh Harrison hit a leadoff double to left field and scored when Bell crushed his first home run of the season halfway up the batter's eye. According to Statcast™, Bell's homer traveled a projected 432 feet and clocked in as the Pirates' fourth-hardest homer since 2015; the first three were hit by Pedro Alvarez. That gave the Bucs a 2-0 lead.

Video: MIN@PIT: Statcast™ measures Bell's 113.7-mph home run

"I was kind of sitting up and out," Bell said, "and it worked out."

Cut down: The Pirates had a chance to extend their lead in the bottom of the fifth, when Corey Dickerson came to the plate with two on and two outs against reliever Taylor Rogers. Dickerson swatted a single to shallow left field, and third-base coach Joey Cora sent Polanco home. The Pirates knew Rosario had a strong arm -- a 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale -- but they also knew he dealt with triceps tendinitis during Spring Training. Polanco took a wide turn around third, and Rosario threw him out at the plate.

Video: MIN@PIT: Rosario throws out Polanco on a laser home

"We felt he was a guy we were going to push, make him make a play," Hurdle said. "He was able to make a play with an accurate enough throw."

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Glasnow appeared to pick off Rosario at first base after a walk in the seventh inning. Rosario was initially ruled safe, however, and the call was upheld after a two-minute, 59-second replay review. The Pirates lost their challenge, and the baserunner proved to be costly. One pitch later, with Rosario running from first, Sano slapped an RBI single to left field.

Video: PIT@MIN: Rosario safe at first, call stands in 7th

"I guess we didn't have the right angles to overturn it," Bell said. "I thought he was out."

WHAT'S NEXT
Left-hander Steven Brault will move out of the bullpen to start for the Bucs as they begin a four-game series with the Reds on Thursday night at PNC Park. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast on MLB Network in the Pittsburgh market.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

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