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Pirates dump Blue Jays to end Toronto's four-game win streak

Ke'Bryan Hayes Pittsburgh Pirates Ke'Bryan Hayes - The Canadian Press

TORONTO — Blue Jays starter Yusei Kikuchi made an adjustment to his approach after a rough first inning Saturday at Rogers Centre. It wasn't enough to stifle the potent Pittsburgh offence.

Ke'Bryan Hayes hit a two-run homer in the Pirates' three-run opening frame and Bryan Reynolds added some late insurance with a two-run shot of his own as Pittsburgh rolled to an 8-1 victory.

Kikuchi allowed a season-high five earned runs over 5 1/3 innings as Toronto's four-game winning streak came to an end.

"I think he was just a little bit predictable at times today with his pitches," said Blue Jays manager John Schneider. "The breaking ball, whether it be the slider or a curve, was in the zone, especially with two strikes."

Kikuchi (2-5) walked Andrew McCutchen on four pitches to begin the game and he came around on an Edward Olivares sacrifice fly. Connor Joe doubled and scored when Hayes blasted his second homer of the year.

"The biggest regret is giving up a home run on a slider," Kikuchi said via an interpreter. "I made a conscious effort to mix up my pitches after that."

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. scored the lone run for the Blue Jays (27-30) in front of 36,484 spectators on a sunny afternoon.

Pirates starter Mitch Keller (7-3) allowed five hits, one earned run, a walk and had eight strikeouts over six innings.

"He stays under control, continues to make pitches, uses his defence, doesn’t try to do too much," said Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton. "That’s a sign of what good, veteran pitchers do."

Luis L. Ortiz worked the final three frames for his first save.

Daulton Varsho didn't play in Friday's series opener — a 5-3 Toronto win in 14 innings — due to food poisoning. He hit a standup triple in his first at-bat Saturday, but was left stranded when Keller struck out Daniel Vogelbach.

"He made his mistakes but we didn't do much with it," Schneider said of Keller. "We didn't get much going today."

McCutchen scored three times for the Pirates (27-31), who outhit the Blue Jays 11-6. The teams will play the rubber game in the three-game series Sunday afternoon.

The Pirates tacked on two more runs in the fifth inning after a double and sacrifice bunt were followed by three straight singles. McCutchen lashed a pitch off Bo Bichette's glove to drive in Jared Triolo and later scored on a Joe single.

The Toronto infield was drawn in again in the sixth when Ryan Burr — making his Blue Jays debut — relieved Kikuchi with runners in scoring position. Burr got Triolo to hit a grounder to Bichette but the shortstop was wide with his throw home and Hayes scored on the error.

The Blue Jays tallied in the bottom half of the frame when Vogelbach lifted a flare to shallow centre field that allowed Guerrero to score from second base.

With McCutchen aboard in the ninth inning, Reynolds went deep off left-hander Brendon Little for his eighth homer of the year.

Kikuchi gave up a walk, nine hits and had four strikeouts. His home record fell to 1-4 over six starts.

"When he's pitching and locating, he's pretty damn good," Schneider said. "When you look at the last two (starts), it's just been breaking balls that have been in the zone a little bit too much."

The game took two hours 28 minutes to play.


Before the game, the Blue Jays placed closer Jordan Romano on the 15-day injured list due to right elbow inflammation.

Little was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo.


Five Toronto relievers combined to throw seven hitless innings — a franchise best — in the series opener.

The team's previous best of six no-hit frames was set April 12, 1994 against the Oakland Athletics and matched Aug. 26, 2002 against the Chicago White Sox.


Blue Jays right-hander Chris Bassitt (5-6, 4.03 earned-run average) was tabbed to start on Sunday. The Pirates had yet to name their starter.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2024.

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