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5 HRs, Holmes seal Bucs' doubleheader sweep

July 14, 2018

PITTSBURGH -- You hear it every spring from just about every team: It takes all 25 players, and usually more, to win. The Pirates proved the adage true on Saturday at PNC Park.Right-hander Clay Holmes, the 26th man, pitched six scoreless innings and picked up his first Major League win

PITTSBURGH -- You hear it every spring from just about every team: It takes all 25 players, and usually more, to win. The Pirates proved the adage true on Saturday at PNC Park.
Right-hander Clay Holmes, the 26th man, pitched six scoreless innings and picked up his first Major League win in only his second start. Max Moroff homered and Jordan Luplow went deep twice after spending most of the season in Triple-A. Tyler Glasnow and Michael Feliz, who didn't pitch in Game 1, got the ball to closer Felipe Vazquez as the Pirates completed a doubleheader sweep with a 6-2 victory over the Brewers, their fifth straight win.
"We're playing really good baseball right now. It's not really just one guy," Holmes said. "It was just an all-around fun game. I think it's fun for everyone right now."
The Bucs have won seven of their last eight games, pulling within two games of .500 as they prepare for Sunday's first-half finale against Milwaukee at PNC Park.
"Our guys have been resilient. They're tough," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "They work hard, and they're playing together. It's been fun to watch us surge back."

Holmes made his first big league start on July 4 at Dodger Stadium, where a streaking Los Angeles lineup scored four runs during his 2 1/3 innings on the mound. With the Pirates in need of a sixth starter on Saturday, Holmes flew down to Florida and made one start for Class A Advanced Bradenton to stay on track.
Holmes broke camp behind right-hander Nick Kingham (now a part of the rotation with Chad Kuhl injured) and starters-turned-relievers Steven Brault and Glasnow on the Pirates rotation depth chart. He made his debut as a reliever in April when the Bucs needed an extra arm capable of pitching multiple innings. He was thrust into action in his first start due to Joe Musgrove's unexpected finger infection.
Holmes, 25, fared much better in his return to the Majors. The rookie right-hander struck out six while allowing only four hits and two walks. He relied primarily on his power sinker, which maxed out at 99.1 mph, and recorded eight outs on the ground.
"The things he was doing in Triple-A he did today at the Major League level against a very good team," Hurdle said.

Glasnow pitched a scoreless seventh and left after loading the bases with one out in the eighth. The Pirates' top four high-leverage relievers sealed their 2-1 victory in Game 1, so Hurdle turned to right-hander Feliz to escape the eighth.
The only Pirates reliever who didn't pitch on Saturday was left-hander Brault. Their entire position-player group got involved, too, as Austin Meadows (who pinch-hit in the opener) was the only hitter who didn't start either of the two games.
Moroff and Luplow didn't start in the first game, but they made a big impact with a trio of solo shots in Game 2. So, too, did catcher Jacob Stallings, who caught the second game after being recalled on Saturday morning. It wasn't lost on Holmes, Stallings, Moroff and Luplow that they were all with Triple-A Indianapolis a month ago.
"That's half the Triple-A squad out there," Moroff said, grinning. "I'm glad we all contributed in some way. It's cool."

Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco hit back-to-back homers in the eighth, just as they did in the first inning of Game 1, before Luplow bashed his second homer 441 feet to left-center field. Feliz couldn't finish the game, exiting after Jesus Aguilar hit a two-run single with two outs in the ninth, so Hurdle summoned Vazquez to record his second save of a successful well-rounded day at the ballpark.
"It's a full day of baseball," Hurdle said. "I thought everybody contributed throughout the day."

Marte and Polanco hit back-to-back homers in both halves of the Pirates' doubleheader sweep, becoming the third duo in Major League history -- and the second set of Pirates -- to do so. Frank Thomas and Dick Groat twice hit consecutive homers on July 7, 1957. Sal Bando and Reggie Jackson did it for the A's on July 7, 1968, exactly 11 years later.

"It's good momentum right now. That's a good feeling. I saw that before, like 2015. We had that kind of streak like that. Just come ready in the second half and throw everything we've got and just play. There's still a lot of baseball."--Polanco, on the Pirates' momentum heading into the All-Star break
"He had everything going. It looked like some of his balls were cutting today. I haven't seen that before. He had that heavy sinker then it looked like some balls were cutting. The batters didn't look like they knew what was coming."--Moroff, on Holmes
With the Pirates up by two in the seventh, Glasnow issued a leadoff walk to Jonathan Villar. Hernan Perez hit a single to left field, and Villar tried to take third base on the play. But Luplow quickly fired the ball to third baseman Colin Moran, who tagged out Villar. Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell challenged the call, but it was confirmed after a replay review.
Rather than having two on with nobody out, the Brewers were left with only Perez on and one out. Glasnow struck out the next two hitters to end the inning.
"It's not a good play," Counsell said. "He's being aggressive, but it's in a situation when you're losing and it's the first out. You've got to be conservative in those situations. So that was a mistake."

The Pirates will finish the first half of their schedule at 1:35 p.m. ET on Sunday as right-hander Joe Musgrove starts against the Brewers at PNC Park. Musgrove gave up two runs in five innings but struck out nine in his last outing, a loss to the Nationals on Tuesday. Right-hander Jhoulys Chacin will start for Milwaukee before the All-Star break begins.

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