PITTSBURGH (AP) – Jameson Taillon scattered seven hits over 6 1/3 innings, Gregory Polanco and John Jaso hit solo home runs and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-0 on Thursday night.
Taillon (4-2) walked two and struck out four in his longest outing since returning from a battle with testicular cancer earlier this month, lowering his ERA to 2.97 despite allowing at least one base runner in six of the seven innings he worked. Andrew McCutchen went 3 for 3 with an RBI single. The 2013 National League MVP is hitting .397 since June 1.
Chris Archer (6-5) allowed three runs in six innings, striking out five without issuing a walk for Tampa Bay, which has lost four of five.
Logan Morrison and Shane Peterson had two hits apiece for the Rays but Tampa Bay went 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base.
Less than two months removed from a stunning cancer diagnosis that threatened to derail his blossoming career, the 25-year-old Taillon looks stronger than ever.
While the Rays kept pecking away at him, Taillon worked in and out of trouble with relative ease. Despite all the traffic, the Rays only reached third base once against Taillon, who left with runners on first and second and one out in the seventh. Tony Watson, demoted from his closer’s role earlier this month, struck out Corey Dickerson and got Evan Longoria to pop up to first base to end the threat.
Archer, trying to win his third consecutive start, couldn’t quite keep pace. Three consecutive one-out Pittsburgh singles in the third, the last by the rejuvenated McCutchen, gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead. Jaso made it 2-0 with his sixth home run of the season leading off the fourth. Polanco, dropped from third to sixth in the batting order while mired in a deep slump, drilled his sixth homer to right center to push the advantage to 3-0.
Josh Bell’s RBI single in the seventh off reliever Chase Whitley made it 4-0 and Pittsburgh’s bullpen made it stand up. A night after working four scoreless innings in a 6-2 win, Pirates’ relievers kept the Rays in check for 2 2/3 innings as Pittsburgh won for the fourth time in six games.
Tampa Bay left 21 runners on base while losing the final two games of the interleague series.
SALUTING THE UMP
PNC Park gave umpire John Tumpane a standing ovation before the first pitch, a way of saying thanks after Tumpane helped save a woman in distress on the Roberto Clemente Bridge on Wednesday. The rescue was caught by a photographer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Tumpane’s selfless act made him an unlikely celebrity. Tumpane, who spent part of Thursday doing a series of interviews, continued to downplay his role, saying he was simply in the right place at the right time.
Rays: Activated reliever Brad Boxberger off the 60-day DL and designated reliever Danny Farquhar for assignment. Boxberger was an All-Star in 2015 when he led the American League with 41 saves. He will work in a setup role for current Tampa Bay closer Alex Colome. Farquhar was 2-2 with a 4.11 ERA in 37 appearances with the Rays this season.
Rays: Continue an eight-game trip in Baltimore on Friday when rookie Jake Faria (3-0, 2.10 ERA) takes the hill against Chris Tillman (1-5, 8.39 ERA). The Orioles took two of three from the Rays in Tampa last weekend.
Pirates: Host the struggling San Francisco Giants in a weekend series starting Friday. Gerrit Cole (6-6, 4.11 ERA) looks for his fourth straight victory in the opener.