Bryan Reynolds hits 3 home runs, Pirates rally to beat Nationals

After a wild fifth inning that saw the Pittsburgh Pirates score the go-ahead run on an obscure rule and the Washington Nationals regain the lead on a confusing play at the plate, Bryan Reynolds took over.

The All-Star center fielder hit his third home run — a three-run, opposite-field shot in the seventh — to rally the Pirates to an 8-7 win Wednesday afternoon at Nationals Park that snapped a five-game losing streak.

“There was a lot of crazy things that went on this one,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “I think Bryan Reynolds carried us to a win. We kind of jumped on his shoulders. It was huge for us.”

The Pirates’ past seven games had been decided by two runs or fewer, including getting swept in three games at Tampa Bay, so they were looking to avoid another three-game series sweep in D.C.

They entered the seventh trailing by a run when Michael Perez hit a leadoff single and Hoy Park drew a walk to put a pair of runners on base. Facing a 1-2 count, Reynolds sent Kyle Finnegan’s sinker 389 feet to the visiting bullpen in left-center for an 8-6 lead. It was his 15th home run this season, his eighth in June alone.

“We’re always fighting and clawing and staying in the game,” Reynolds said. “We showed that today, battling back a few times. Hopefully, we can build off that and get some momentum.”

It was the first career three-homer game for Reynolds, who went 3 for 5 with a career-best six RBIs. He became the 22nd player in Pirates history to hit three homers in one game and the second this season. Reynolds joined Jack Suwinski, who hit three homers in a 4-3 walk-off win over the San Francisco Giants on June 19 at PNC Park.

Reynolds also joined Suwinski to become the sixth Pirate to homer off three pitchers in one game, hitting them off starter Paulo Espino and relievers Carl Edwards Jr. and Finnegan.

“It was great,” Reynolds said. “You always want to help your team win. I had some good at-bats, and we ended up winning.”

It marked the fourth season in franchise history (1947, ’58 and ’71) the Pirates had multiple players hit three homers in a game. The last time the Pirates had a pair of three-homer games in one season came courtesy of Hall of Famer Willie Stargell, who accounted for both in ’71.

Reynolds’ power surge, however, came on the heels of controversy.

Following Park’s ground-rule double that put runners on second and third, Ke’Bryan Hayes hit a low liner that Nationals first baseman Josh Bell caught before it could hit the ground. Suwinski broke for home plate without tagging up, but Bell alertly threw to third baseman Ehire Adrianza, who tagged Park for the third out while he was standing on third base, then tapped the bag with his foot for good measure.

“I’ve never seen that play before,” Park said. “I was kind of confused. Everyone was confused about it. Finally, we scored. I still don’t know what happened.”

The umpire crew ruled that Suwinski scored to give the Pirates a 4-3 lead after manager Shelton cited Rule 5.09(c)(4), also known as the “fourth out rule,” which states: “If the third out is made during a play in which an appeal play is sustained on another runner, the appeal play decision takes precedence in determining the out. If there is more than one appeal during a play that ends a half-inning, the defense may elect to take the out that gives it the advantage.”

“The fourth out rule enters my mind all the time,” Shelton said. “I asked (the umpires) to get together (to see) if he caught it, if that was the case. Then they came over and said, ‘OK, because of the tag play at third base, it was going to be double play, run scores. Then it turned into a different conversation.”

As first base umpire Mark Wegner explained, a team may not appeal after the fielders have left the field. Shelton said Wegner attempted three times to tell Nationals reliever Steve Cishek to stay on the field, to no avail. So Suwinski’s run counted, giving the Pirates a 4-3 lead.

The lead didn’t last long.

After Bell walked and Nelson Cruz reached on a fielder’s choice, the Pirates pulled starter Mitch Keller. Lefty Cam Vieaux struck out Luis Garcia but gave up an run-scoring single to Keibert Ruiz that tied the game and a run-scoring double to Yadiel Hernadez for a 5-4 Nationals lead.

When Adrianza reached on a bunt to load the bases, Chase De Jong replaced Vieaux. Cesar Hernandez hit a two-out bloop single to left, but Ruiz returned to third to tag and was nearly passed by Yadiel Hernandez. Ruiz beat the throw to the plate for a 6-4 lead, but Hernandez was called out after running out of the basepath to avoid the tag.

Reynolds started the sixth with a solo homer, his second of the game, to cut the Pirates’ deficit to 6-5. He sent a four-seamer by Edwards 420 feet to right, marking the second multiple-homer game of his career.

His first homer came in the first inning after Ke’Bryan Hayes hit a leadoff single. Reynolds followed Hayes by driving Espino’s 2-1 fastball 389 feet to left-center for a two-run homer, his fifth in the first inning.

After getting Juan Soto to ground into a double play, Keller gave up four consecutive hits in the first inning as the Nationals tied it 2-2. Bell doubled to right and scored on a Cruz single, and Cruz scored on a Ruiz single to right.

Keller’s struggles continued in a 32-pitch second inning, when Adrianza singled, reached second on a groundout, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Soto’s double down the right-field line for a 3-2 Nationals lead. It could have been worse if Keller hadn’t escaped a bases-loaded jam by getting Garcia to fly out to left.

Daniel Vogelbach crushed an Espino curveball for his 10th homer, a 400-foot shot to center, to tie the score 3-3 in the fourth inning.

With closer David Bednar not available because of a sore back and Chris Stratton and Wil Crowe pitching multiple innings the past two games, Shelton got creative with the bullpen by searching for matchups.

Tyler Beede pitched two innings, giving up a solo homer to Yadiel Hernandez that cut it to 8-7. The Pirates stranded runners on second and third in the eighth, but Beede escaped a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the eighth by getting Garcia to fly out to left.

“It felt awesome, man. Any reliever wants to come into a close ballgame, a high-leverage situation and just do their job. I’m just fortunate they trusted me in that opportunity today. I’m just piggybacking on how those guys threw today.

“That’s a tough one. You’ve just got to take deep breaths, continue to trust your stuff in the zone and trust your defense, as well,” Beede said. “It was a situation where you want to continue to attack and not give up free bases. I’m just glad I could make a pitch when I needed to.”

After Beede got through the heart of the order, Shelton turned to rookie right-hander Yerry De Los Santos in the ninth. De Los Santos retired the Nationals in order — the only Pirates pitcher to do so all game — and got Adrianza swinging to record his first career save.

“It feels really good,” Shelton said. “We’ve played well on this road trip, well enough to win games and haven’t finished them. We were able to finish a game today, and I give our guys credit. With Bednar not being available, the bullpen stepped up at the end in some different roles and it was nice to see.”

Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin by email at kgorman@triblive.com or via Twitter .

Leave a Comment