In a bullpen-focused game, the Pittsburgh Pirates effectively contained the Arizona Diamondbacks, holding them to just four hits. Ji Man Choi played a crucial role, contributing a two-run home run and a double to help the Pirates secure a 4-2 victory in Phoenix.
The Pirates managed to avoid a three-game sweep against the Diamondbacks, who head into the All-Star break in a close race with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the top spot in the National League West.
Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton strategically employed a bullpen-by-committee approach, granting his starting pitchers an extra day of rest with the upcoming break starting on Monday.
Rookie relief pitcher Carmen Mlodzinski made his first career start, and the Pirates utilized a total of seven pitchers throughout the game, with Ryan Borucki, Osvaldo Bido, Angel Perdomo, Yerry De Los Santos, Colin Holderman, and David Bednar all making appearances. None of them pitched more than 1 2/3 innings. Bido (1-1) earned the win, while Bednar secured his 17th save of the season.
Arizona struggled with runners in scoring position, going 0-for-8 and leaving five runners stranded on base.
The Diamondbacks took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning after capitalizing on walks issued by Mlodzinski to Geraldo Perdomo (not related to Angel Perdomo) and Christian Walker. With two outs, Geraldo Perdomo and Walker attempted a double steal, and an errant throw by catcher Austin Hedges trying to catch Walker at second base resulted in an error, allowing Perdomo to score.
In the second inning, after Arizona starter Zach Davies (1-5) walked Carlos Santana, Choi smashed a home run to center field, giving the Pirates a 2-1 advantage.
The Diamondbacks swiftly responded in the third inning when Alek Thomas hit a solo home run, his second in as many days, to tie the game at 2.
Pittsburgh rallied in the fifth inning as Tucupita Marcano and Nick Gonzales led off with consecutive singles. Hedges executed a sacrifice bunt to advance Marcano to third base and Gonzales to second. Jack Suwinksi then delivered a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Marcano and propelling the Pirates to a 3-2 lead.
In the ninth inning, Choi doubled with one out, and pinch runner Connor Joe took his place on the base. Jared Triolo followed with a single, allowing Joe to cross home plate and secure the final run of the game.