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Pirates RHP Mitch Keller shuts down Nationals

Sep 14, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Mitch Keller (23) delivers a pitch against the Washington Nationals during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Jack Suwinski and Alfonso Rivas homered to back right-hander Mitch Keller’s eight scoreless innings Thursday as the Pittsburgh Pirates topped the visiting Washington Nationals 2-0 to take three of four in the series.

Keller (12-9) allowed two hits, walked one and struck out seven. He combined with David Bednar — who pitched a perfect ninth for his 35th save — on the two-hit shutout.

Keller was making his 100th major league appearance.

The Pirates (69-78) are 10-5 in their past 15 games.

The Nationals (65-82) are 3-11 in their past 14 games.

Washington starter Josiah Gray (7-12) gave up two runs and five hits in 6 1/3 innings. He walked none and struck out a season-high 10.

It was a matchup of first-time All-Stars on the mound, and Keller and Gray pitched accordingly.

Keller got the better of Gray, thanks to the two home runs, but the Nationals gave Keller a little test in the first.

CJ Abrams singled to left on the game’s first pitch and went to second when Lane Thomas reached on shortstop Liover Peguero’s bobble for a fielding error. Keibert Ruiz flied out and Keller picked Abrams off second before striking out Joey Meneses.

Suwinski sent Gray’s first pitch in the third into the stands in right, his 25th homer, for a 1-0 Pittsburgh lead.

In the fifth with two outs, Rivas hit his third homer to center to increase the lead to 2-0.

Keller retired 13 batters in a row before Meneses walked with one out in the seventh — the only walk allowed by Keller. He struck out Dominic Smith and got Luis Garcia to ground into a forceout.

In the bottom of the seventh, Suwinski led off with a single to center. Joshua Palacios singled to right, but the runners ended up at second and third as right fielder Thomas committed two errors on the play, one fielding and one throwing. Gray struck out Peguero before being lifted for Jordan Weems, who got a strikeout and a groundout.

–Field Level Media