PITTSBURGH (AP) — Ben Gamel homered twice and drove in six runs to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates past the Atlanta Braves 11-1 on Monday night.
Gamel took Max Fried (5-5) over the fence in center field for a two-run home run in the fourth, doubled home Bryan Reynolds in the sixth and added a three-run shot in the seventh as the Pirates won their second straight following a six-game losing streak.
A day after driving in the winning run as a pinch-hitter in a 10-inning victory over Miami, Fried came back down to earth with his worst start since April. The Pirates touched the left-hander for six runs in five-plus innings as Atlanta missed a chance to get back to .500 for the first time since June 8.
Chase De Jong (1-3) survived a 36-pitch first inning to pick up the second victory of his five-year major-league career. De Jong struck out four and walked three to notch his first win since beating the Chicago White Sox on Sept. 28, 2018, while playing for Minnesota.
Having an offense that has struggled mightily in recent weeks helped. Pittsburgh's 11-run outburst was one more than they scored all of last week while going 1-6.
Gamel has been one of the few bright spots in the lineup since being claimed off waivers from Cleveland in May. The well-traveled 29-year-old is hitting .312 (29 for 93) in his last 27 starts.
Ke'Bryan Hayes hit his first home run in nearly a month for Pittsburgh as the Pirates tied their season-high in runs.
Ronald Acuña and Freddie Freeman had two hits apiece for Atlanta. The rest of the Braves managed just two hits against De Jong and four relievers.
Atlanta appeared ready to chase De Jong early. Acuña singled leading off the game and raced home when Freeman followed with a double to right that Phil Evans bobbled after chasing down. A walk and a hit batter eventually loaded the bases, but De Jong survived further damage when Orlando Arcia lined out to shortstop.
De Jong settled down and Pittsburgh's offense picked up the slack. Gamel's blast in the fourth put the Pirates in front and by the time his second home run of the night cleared the fence in center field in the seventh, Pittsburgh was on its way to its most lopsided victory of the season.
John Nogowski went 2 of 4 in his first start at first base after being acquired from St. Louis for cash considerations on Saturday. The 28-year-old Nogowski is hoping to kick start his career after hitting just 2 for 22 (.091) in 20 games with the Cardinals. Pittsburgh is in need of serious help at first with Colin Moran and Erik Gonzalez both on the 10-day injured list.
Pirates: LHP Steven Brault (left lat strain) is expected to make a rehab start in Florida at some point this week. Brault has been sidelined all season after being injured in mid-March.
Braves: Ian Anderson (5-4, 3.35 ERA) will try to pick up his second win since Memorial Day when the teams meet on Tuesday. Anderson tossed six shutout innings against the Pirates in Atlanta on May 21.
Pirates: Chad Kuhl (2-5, 5.16) has won two of his last three starts after dropping his first four decisions. Kuhl's biggest problem this season has been the first inning. He has allowed 11 runs in the opening frame through 10 starts, and just 20 over the remaining innings combined.
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