PITTSBURGH (AP) — Bryan Reynolds wasn’t even in the conversation for playing time when the Pirates began their 2019 season. As the first half closes, he’s established himself as a key contributor to a surprising Pittsburgh offense.
Reynolds hit a three-run home run in the seventh inning to lift the Pirates over the Milwaukee Brewers 6-5 Sunday in their final game before the All-Star break.
Reynolds’ estimated 403-foot shot cleared the seats beyond the fence in right-center field and bounced toward the Allegheny River. His seventh homer of the season came after Kevin Kramer walked and Adam Frazier singled off reliever Junior Guerra (3-2).
Reynolds also hit an RBI double in the fifth and is batting .342 with a .950 OPS.
The 2016 second-round pick, who came to Pittsburgh as part of the return for Andrew McCutchen in 2018, took advantage of playing time created by injuries.
“Sometimes, at the end of the year, those teams go to the playoffs, that win it all, there’s some unexpected pleasures that happen along the way that you didn’t have walking in the door,” manager Clint Hurdle said.
The Pirates closed the first half by winning back-to-back series against Milwaukee and the Chicago Cubs to close to 2 1/2 games back in the NL Central and 44-45 overall.
“This past week for us was big,” Reynolds said. “We rattled off a bunch of wins. I’m just thankful I could help us tonight.”
Brewers star Christian Yelich did not play and pulled out of Monday’s All-Star Home Run Derby with a back injury. He said he plans to play in the All-Star Game on Tuesday.
“I didn’t think I was going to be able do that kind of volume of swings and what the Derby demanded,” Yelich said. “If I wasn’t going to be able to perform how I was supposed to and do it justice and give it the effort that it deserved, I didn’t think it’d be a great idea to do it.”
Jesús Aguilar hit a two-run drive in the seventh off Pirates starter Joe Musgrove that tied the game at 3. It was his second home run of the game and eighth of season. He also hit a solo shot to left off Musgrove in the fifth.
Francisco Liriano relieved Musgrove and finished the seventh to improve to 3-1. Felipe Vázquez worked a four-out save, his 20th of the season.
Milwaukee rookie Keston Hiura hit a two-run homer in the eighth, also his seventh of the season.
Musgrove struck out five in six-plus innings, allowing five hits and three runs. His appearance was interrupted by a 40-minute rain delay in between the fifth and sixth innings.
It was the second start in a row for Musgrove that was hampered by the weather. He managed just three innings before the rain on July 2.
“That was my first time going through a delay and having a chance to go back out,” Musgrove said. “That was a test for me. Something I haven’t been through before. I felt really stiff going back out there.”
Musgrove also contributed at the plate during a two-run second inning against starter Chase Anderson. Colin Moran tripled and scored on Kevin Newman’s single to right. Newman and Jacob Stallings perfectly executed a hit-and-run that left Newman at third for Musgrove, who put a squeeze bunt down the right side for his first career RBI.
Anderson allowed two runs on five hits over four innings. He struck out four and walked two.
Orlando Arcia pinch hit in the fifth inning after a scary collision with Hiura on Saturday.
Infield prospect Mauricio Dubon, recalled as insurance for Arcia, made his MLB debut as a pinch hitter in the eighth. Dubon is the first big leaguer born and raised in Honduras.
“It still hasn’t sunk in yet, having been on a big league field, having a whole country watching you play,” Dubon said. “We had a rain delay and everything, and I had a chance to check out my phone and look at how everything was going. The whole country was watching. It was special knowing that I have that support back home. It was really special.”
He faced Vázquez in an eight-pitch battle and fouled off five straight before grounding out to first base.
Brewers: RHP Burch Smith was optioned to Triple-A to make room for Dubon.
Pirates: LF Corey Dickerson (right groin discomfort) was held out of the lineup. … LHP Steven Brault (left shoulder strain) is not expected to be ready to return from the injured list after the 10-day minimum. Dario Agrazal will start the second half in the starting rotation while Brault recovers. … Kramer was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis and RHP Montana DuRapau was optioned there.
Brewers: Have not announced a starting pitcher for their second-half opener on Friday against San Francisco.
Pirates: Chris Archer (3-6, 5.49 ERA) will start the second half at the Chicago Cubs on Friday. He had a 7.89 ERA on the road in the first half.