Gregory Polanco racked up four hits, and R.A. Dickey was marred by costly defensive miscues as the Pirates made the most of their opportunities and turned four double plays while claiming a 6-4 win over the Pirates on Saturday night at PNC Park.
Polanco singled to begin a two-run second inning, doubled during a two-run third inning and capped a two-run sixth inning with a RBI single off Ian Krol. The Pirates took advantage of two errors and the three passed balls charged against Kurt Suzuki, who had trouble handling the knuckleball in his first official game as Dickey’s catcher.
Dickey gave the Braves an early lead when he blooped a two-out, two-run single to shallow right field off Pirates starter Chad Kuhl, who also surrendered Jace Peterson’s third-inning RBI triple during his five-inning effort.
Making his Braves debut, Dickey allowed six runs — three earned — and nine hits over 5 2/3 innings. The 42-year-old former Cy Young Award winner endured a frustrating sixth inning when Alen Hanson reached on an infield single that hit off Dickey’s right foot and then scored with the assistance of a wild pitch and two passed balls.
Dansby Swanson doubled in the first inning and then got caught too far off the bag when Adonis Garcia lined into a double play. Brandon Phillips grounded into a double play after the Braves put two on with none out in the third inning, and Peterson killed another potential rally in the fifth inning when he grounded into a double play after Atlanta had put two on with one out.
“The double plays were huge,” Hurdle said. “I can’t speak enough about the double plays. There were a lot of challenges to be met off the mound for him through five innings, and the double plays played big. You give [Kuhl] credit. He was in a corner. He got the best double play when he needed one. It was the last one, to clean out the fifth inning. He did what he needed to do to give us a chance to win the game.”
The Pirates capped a two-run second inning when Freddie Freeman was unable to secure the throw Garcia made after fielding Kuhl’s two-out grounder. The visitors’ defense woes extended into the two-run third when catcher Suzuki whiffed on a knuckleball, allowing Polanco to advance to third base. Second baseman Phillips then booted a grounder off the bat of John Jaso, who scored on Josh Harrison’s two-out single.
The Braves made a successful challenge in the fourth inning, when a replay review resulted in a double play. First base umpire originally ruled Starling Marte beat Swanson’s throw to first base.
Polanco was called out when he attempted to stretch his sixth-inning single into a double. The Pirates challenged Swanson never tagged Polanco, but the call stood after a 1:58 review.
A crew chief challenge in the ninth inning confirmed Nick Markakis was hit on the hand by Tony Watson’s pitch.
Julio Teheran will make his second start when Atlanta and Pittsburgh conclude this three-game series Sunday at 12:35 p.m ET. Teheran tossed six scoreless innings during Monday’s Opening Day loss to the Mets.