PITTSBURGH — Tucupita Marcano hit his first career grand slam, rookie Luis Ortiz pitched into the eighth inning and earned his first major league victory and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the AL West-leading Texas Rangers 6-4 on Monday night.
Ortiz (1-2) allowed two runs and five hits in 7 2/3 innings for the win in his eighth career start, including four this season. The 24-year-old right-hander struck out four and walked two in a 93-pitch effort.
“Luis was in attack mode the whole time against the best offense in baseball,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said, referring to the Rangers entering the game averaging a major league-best 6.46 runs per game. “It shows the quality of his stuff because of the fact they were very aggressive, but the first four or five innings there weren’t a lot of balls on the barrel at all.”
Ortiz had the most innings pitched by a Pirates rookie starter since Trevor Williams went eight against the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017.
“I’m very happy and full of emotion and so thankful that the guys did a good job of helping me get this first win,” Ortiz said.
Marcano’s slam to straightaway center field off Joe Barlow capped a five-run seventh inning and put the Pirates ahead 6-1.
“I felt from pitch one that I had chance to connect on that ball pretty good, and that’s what I did,” said Marcano, who fouled off two pitches earlier in the at-bat. “I had some good swings before the pitch, and he put a pitch over the plate where I could connect.”
Earlier in the inning, Carlos Santana singled to drive in Bryan Reynolds with the go-ahead run with two outs on a play that was overturned after a video review. Reynolds was originally called out on right fielder Adolis Garcia’s throw to home plate, a play that would have ended the inning.
“It was a great slide by Bryan,” Shelton said. “Most people would have kept their toe up on that play, but he kept his toe down and was safe.”
Texas rookie Josh Jung hit a two-run homer — his 10th of the season — off closer David Bednar in the ninth inning, pulling the Rangers within 6-4. Bednar then retired the final two batters.
Andrew McCutchen, Reynolds and Marcano each had two hits for the Pirates, who won for the fourth time in 11 games and snapped the Rangers’ three-game winning streak.
Rangers starter Dane Dunning allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision. He scattered six hits, struck out three and walked three. In four starts since taking the place of the injured star Jacob deGrom in the rotation, Dunning has been charged with just four runs in 22 2/3 innings for a 1.59 ERA.
“(The Pirates) kind of squeezed their zone a little bit, were really good at not chasing stuff off the plate,” Dunning said. “I elevated a few sliders, elevated a few pitches and they had a good approach and took advantage of it.”
Josh Sborz (1-2) allowed three runs in one inning of relief and took the loss. The Rangers' bullpen gave up five runs in all. Texas got two hits from Jung, Nathaniel Lowe and Leody Taveras.
The Pirates opened the scoring in the second inning when Ke’Bryan Hayes hit a leadoff double and scored on Connor Joe’s ground out.
Corey Seager’s sacrifice fly in the sixth inning drew the Rangers into a 1-all tie.
Marcus Semien hit an RBI single for the Rangers in the eighth to end Ortiz’s night.
Rangers: DeGrom (right elbow inflammation) threw all fastballs during a 32-pitch bullpen session before the game. The two-time Cy Young Award winner will add breaking balls when he has his next bullpen on Friday, when the Rangers are in Baltimore. DeGrom has been on the injured list since April 29.
Rangers RHP Nathan Eovaldi (5-2, 2.83 ERA) will face LHP Rich Hill (4-3, 3.80) on Tuesday night in the second game of the three-game series. Eovaldi is 4-0 with a 1.61 ERA in his last six starts, and Hill is 4-1 with a 2.23 ERA in his last six outings.