PITTSBURGH (AP) — Chris Bassitt allowed four hits over seven innings, George Springer hit his fourth home run of the season and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-0 on Friday night.
Bassitt (4-2) struck out five and walked four as Toronto ended a five-game losing streak. Bassitt had little trouble with the suddenly skidding Pirates, who have dropped five straight. The right-hander, who signed a three-year deal with Toronto in the offseason, won for the third time in four starts.
George Springer hit a two-run shot off Rich Hill (3-3) in the fifth inning for Toronto. Whit Merrifield added two hits for the Blue Jays, who bounced back from a rough visit to Boston in which they gave up 32 runs in a four-game sweep by jumping on Pittsburgh early and riding Bassitt and two relievers the rest of the way.
The surprising Pirates began the day in first place in the NL Central, but have cooled off of late. They were swept during a three-game visit to scorching hot Tampa Bay and their offense may be starting to be feeling the long-term effects of missing injured shortstop Oneil Cruz (fractured left leg) and designated hitter/first baseman Ji Man Choi (strained left Achilles).
Pittsburgh has mustered just six runs during its current slide, a span in which the Pirates are just 3 for 30 with runners in scoring position. Bryan Reynolds extended his hitting streak to 10 with a double in the sixth, Pittsburgh’s lone extra-base hit.
Pittsburgh has been one of the most aggressive baserunning teams in the league since the start of the season. That aggressiveness ran them out of innings against the Blue Jays as the Pirates ran into a pair of outs at third and another at home plate when Rodolfo Castro was thrown out while trying to score on a wild pitch in the second inning.
Hill has been getting by on savvy and the ability to vary speeds during his first six starts with the Pirates, with mixed results. It was more of the same against the Blue Jays. The 43-year-old struck out the side in the second — including getting Daulton Varsho flailing at a 68 mph curveball — but when he missed his spots, the Blue Jays pounced.
Beau Bichette doubled in the first and scored on a RBI-single by Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Varsho exacted a little revenge with an RBI-double in the fourth that made it 2-0. Hill then left a 70 mph breaking ball up to Springer with one on in the fifth and Springer sent it 425 feet into the bullpen beyond the center field wall.
Blue Jays: Put right-handed reliever Zach Pop on the 15-day injured list with a right hamstring strain. Called up right-handed reliever Jay Jackson from Triple-A Buffalo. The 35-year-old Jackson made two appearances last season for Atlanta.
Pirates: Placed right-handed starting pitcher Vince Velasquez on the 15-day injured list with right elbow inflammation. … Activated RHP reliever Chase De Jong (back) off the IL. … DH Andrew McCutchen was a late scratch with a sprained left ankle. Mark Mathis filled in and went 0 for 3. … 2B Ji Hwan Bae was removed from the game after pulling up while running out a ground ball in the eighth.
The series continues on Saturday when Toronto’s José Berríos (2-3, 5.29 ERA) faces Pittsburgh’s Johan Oviedo (2-2, 4.78).