PHILADELPHIA -- It started a lot better than it ended for the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park Saturday afternoon.
Sean Rodriguez, inserted into the leadoff spot, opened the game with an opposite-field home run off of Phillies starter Aaron Nola. Nola would settle in after the initial shock, and strike out 9 batters en route to a 7-inning, 2-run performance, helping sink the Pirates in a 6-2 win by the Phillies.
The key moment of the game came when Pirates manager Clint Hurdle replaced starter Steven Brault (2-1) with reliever Michael Feliz with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning. Rhys Hoskins smashed a three-run homer on a 1-2 pitch to erase a 2-0 Pittsburgh lead.
"I wanted to have our second-best [high-leverage] reliever in the game in that situation,'' said Hurdle. "Michael threw the wrong pitch to an up-and-coming, terrific young hitter. He fouled off a few excellent fastballs.
"I don't know if Michael's slider came into play with Hoskins or not. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap. Prior to that, Brault pitched a really nice game. The move with Feliz is something a manager has to live with.''
Brault seemed game to match his counterpart through five innings, throwing up zeros before running into trouble in the sixth inning.
Brault's work -- 93 pitches, 49 strikes -- was undone in a few moments by Feliz, who came on to face Hoskins after Brault exited, in part, due to a replay review.
"I had a real good feel for my pitches today,'' said Brault. "I just have to do a better job throwing strikes. I hate to get taken out in the sixth."
An Odubel Herrera single followed a Carlos Santana hit-by-pitch against Brault and set the stage for Hoskins' go-ahead homer. Feliz had previously not allowed any inherited runners to score, and hitters were 6-for-29 against him.
The offense was unable to get anything going most of the day, but Rodriguez supplied the early homer, and also came around to score after Starling Marte's single in the top of the sixth. Marte hit a popup that dropped between Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez and Herrera, and gave the Pirates a 2-0 lead before Hoskins' key blow aided the Phillies in scoring the final six runs.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Santana sells replay: With one out in the sixth, Santana stepped to the plate batting right-handed against the southpaw Brault. Brault attempted to go inside on a 2-1 pitch, and Santana appeared to gesture to the home-plate umpire that he was hit, causing the Phillies' dugout to request a review. Replay showed that Santana was in fact hit, and awarded him first base. Once Herrera reached with a single in the following at-bat, Hoskins stepped to the plate representing the go-ahead run. He then delivered the back-breaker, all set up Santana's insistence for a review.
The loss was the Pirates' first in afternoon games this season. Pittsburgh had won its previous eight day games.
HE SAID IT
"Rhys just did what he does. He has really made himself into an excellent hitter. He's not just a power hitter, he's a very tough out.'' -- Brault, who played against Hoskins in the Triple-A International League.
The Pirates close out a four-game road trip on Sunday at 1:35 p.m. ET, which has included players' dads and some other relatives, who were also on hand for the club's three-game series with Colorado. Right-handed pitcher Trevor Williams (3-1, 1.93) has put together an excellent start to the season, allowing just five earned runs in his last three starts. Philadelphia will send Nick Pivetta (1-0, 2.49) to the mound, a fellow righty, who has also pitched well of late.