PITTSBURGH — Another disappointing outing by Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz may have been the final straw to end Dallas Keuchel's extended free agency.
Foltynewicz allowed consecutive home runs to Colin Moran and Gregory Polanco in the second inning of a 6-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates — another subpar performance for the 2018 All-Star — and Atlanta agreed to terms on a deal with Keuchel hours later, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday night because the agreement had not been finalized.
Foltynewicz (1-5) has allowed 15 home runs, one shy of NL leader Kyle Freeland of Colorado. He gave up three runs, six hits and one walk in six innings, lowering his ERA from 6.10 to 5.89.
Braves manager Brian Snitker said he has faith the 27-year-old Foltynewicz can regain his form.
"He's just a click away," Snitker said. "He's left pitches over the middle of the plate. You do that, they get whacked. After all that — that was the second inning — then he started making pitches."
The front office isn't being so patient. Keuchel is likely to begin his Braves tenure in the minors as he builds up arm strength and stamina — something he can do because he has minor league options left — but he's expected to join the Braves' rotation in the near future.
Keuchel's contract would include a salary of about $21 million, and the 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner would get a prorated share of that because only about 115 days will remain in the 186-day season.
A 31-year-old left-hander, Keuchel was 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA in 34 starts last season for Houston and turned down a $17.9 million qualifying offer in November.
Moran gave the Pirates a 2-1 lead with a two-run drive above the Clemente Wall in right field, his eighth home run this season. Three pitches later, Polanco sent a curveball into the last row of the right-field seats.
"In starts past, I wouldn't have gotten through the third or maybe that inning," Foltynewicz said. "I really felt like I got stronger as the game went on. I felt better and better every inning I went out. So it was something to go off of there in the second inning. I'm really glad I stopped the bleeding."
Atlanta allowed 18 runs while losing two of three to the Pirates. Foltynewicz and Kevin Gausman, the loser in Wednesday's 7-4 defeat, are a combined 3-9.
Josh Bell had three doubles, increasing his major league-leading total to 25, and had two RBIs to take sole possession of the big league lead with 58.
Chris Archer (3-5) gave up one run and six hits in six innings, a turnaround after he yielded at least three runs in each of his previous five starts.
"It was nice to get a series win against a really good club, a really good lineup," Archer said. "I think it did something for this clubhouse. We're looking forward to rolling into Milwaukee with that swagger that we have."
Felipe Vázquez got four outs for his 15th save in 16 chances. He entered with a 3-1 lead and a runner on in the eighth, then retired Nick Markakis on a foulout. After Atlanta loaded the bases in the ninth on a single and a pair of walks, Vázquez struck out Dansby Swanson on three pitches for the final out.
Bell, who had started June in a 2-for-14 slide, hit a two-run double off Jacob Webb in the bottom half and scored on Elias Díaz's double.
"It was just watching video, seeing what was going right when I was on there for a little bit and then just trying to get back there," Bell said.
Freddie Freeman put Atlanta ahead in the first with his 16th home run.
Pirates: RHP Trevor Williams (right side strain) is tentatively scheduled to make his first minor league injury rehabilitation start on June 13. ... LF Corey Dickerson (right shoulder strain) said he is travelling with the team to Milwaukee but he does not know when he will be activated from the IL. He hit .182 in nine rehab games with Triple-A Indianapolis.
Braves: RHP Mike Soroka (6-1, 1.41 ERA) will start a three-game series at Miami. The rookie has allowed three earned runs or fewer in all nine starts this season and has won six straight decisions.
Pirates: RHP Rookie Davis (0-0, 5.87 ERA) will make his first start with Pittsburgh to start a 10-game trip at Milwaukee. The former Cincinnati Reds prospect hasn't started in the majors since Sept. 20, 2017. He was 1-3 with a 5.35 ERA in seven starts in Indianapolis.
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