Oviedo bests Kopech, Cruz injured as Pirates top White Sox

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH – Johan Oviedo outdueled Michael Kopech to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates past the Chicago White Sox 1-0 on Sunday.

Oviedo (1-0) allowed five hits – all singles – and struck out five in 6 2/3 innings as the Pirates won for the fifth time in six games. Dauri Moreta struck out Yasmani Grandal with a runner on second to end the seventh after coming on for Oviedo. David Bednar worked around a two-out single by Gavin Sheets in the ninth for his fourth save.

Canaan Smith-Njigba tripled in the second and scored on Jack Suwinski‘s sacrifice fly to produce the game’s only run.

Pittsburgh improved to 6-3 but may have lost shortstop Oneil Cruz. The 6-foot-7 Cruz injured his left leg in a home-plate collision with Chicago catcher Seby Zavala in the sixth inning.

Cruz was attempting to score from third on a chopper by teammate Ke'Bryan Hayes when Cruz’s leg bent awkwardly underneath him as he tried to make a late slide under Zavala’s tag.

The 24-year-old Cruz lay on the ground for several minutes while tempers briefly flared. Pittsburgh designated hitter Carlos Santana shoved the catcher shortly after the play ended, leading to both benches and bullpens briefly clearing.

No punches were thrown and no players were ejected. Cruz eventually made his way to his feet and was helped to the dugout by several members of Pittsburgh’s support staff. There was no immediate update on the extent of Cruz’s injury.

Oviedo, moved into the starting rotation when J.T. Brubaker injured his right elbow near the end of spring training, dazzled in arguably his best start since Pittsburgh acquired him last summer in a trade that sent veteran left-hander José Quintana to the Cardinals.

Oviedo’s only trouble spot came in the fifth when a pair of singles and a stolen base put runners in scoring position with one out. Oviedo got ahead of Elvis Andrus 0-2 then hit Andrus with an inside pitch. Umpires ruled Andrus swung, meaning he was not awarded first base. Andrus flew out to end the threat.

Oviedo’s day included a slick between-the-legs snag of a sharp grounder by Tim Anderson leading off the sixth.

He was removed with two outs in the sixth after Gavin Sheets led off the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Óscar Colás. Chicago inserted Grandal as a pinch-hitter. The Pirates then turned to Moreta, who fanned Grandal with a changeup to end the inning.

Kopech was just as crisp as Oviedo, a positive sign for a staff that entered Sunday with a 7.38 ERA, the worst in the majors. The right-hander gave up just two hits in six innings with three walks and five strikeouts.


Pirates: RHP Vince Velasquez will make his next scheduled start barring a setback. Velasquez rolled his left ankle in the third inning of an 11-5 loss on Saturday night. … Pittsburgh GM Ben Cherington said the right elbow of RHP prospect Mike Burrows appears stable. Burrows left Saturday’s game for Triple-A Indianapolis with right forearm discomfort.


White Sox: Travel to Minnesota to start a three-game set on Monday. Dylan Cease (1-0, 1.59 ERA) faces Kenta Maeda (0-1, 1.80).

Pirates: Welcome reigning World Series champion Houston to PNC Park on Monday. Roansy Contreras (1-0, 1.59 ERA) pitches for Pittsburgh against Houston’s Framber Valdez (0-1, 1.50).

McCutchen’s sacrifice fly lifts Pirates to 5-4 win, extends Athletics’ road losing streak to 15

Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
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PITTSBURGH – Andrew McCutchen’s tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the eighth inning lifted Pittsburgh to a 5-4 victory over Oakland on Monday night, extending the Pirates’ win streak to six games and sending the Athletics to their record-tying 15th consecutive road loss.

The 15 straight defeats away from home matches the Athletics’ record since they moved from Kansas City in 1968. Oakland set that mark in 1986.

The major league-worst Athletics (12-50) have lost five games in a row overall. They are on pace to finish the season exactly 100 games under .500 at 31-131.

“It’s tough,” Athletics manager Mark Kotsay said. “Tonight’s game, we didn’t play well enough to win the game. I don’t want to say we gave the game away but there were a lot of instances where we had a chance to capitalize on opportunities and didn’t do it.”

McCutchen also singled and drew three walks to go with two RBIs. The 2013 NL MVP now has 1,998 career hits.

With the score tied at 4, Ji Hwan Bae led off the decisive eighth inning with a single off Sam Moll (0-3) and advanced to third on Austin Hedges’ one-out single. McCutchen’s sac fly plated Bae.

“I was just trying to get the job done. I understand the situation there,” McCutchen said. “We just need to get the run. I was trying to bear down against a hard thrower and trying to get that run in as much as I can, and I was able to do it and have a good at-bat.”

Angel Perdomo (1-0) retired both hitters he faced. and Colin Holdeman pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his first career save. It was an eventful inning for Holderman as the first three batters reached base, but he struck out Carlos Perez with runners on the corners to end it.

“I began my career as a starting pitcher in the minor leagues but ever since I was switched to relief, this has been the goal, to get a save in the big leagues,” Holderman said.

Pittsburgh starter Johan Oviedo gave up three runs and four hits with five strikeouts and two walks.

Oakland left-hander JP Sears did not allow a hit until Mark Mathias’ leadoff single in the fifth but was unable to make it through the inning. Sears was charged with one run in 4 2/3 innings while allowing two hits, walking five and striking out six.

Sears has not allowed more than two runs in five consecutive starts. His nine no-decisions are the most in the major leagues.

Ryan Noda and Brent Rooker had two hits each for the Athletics.

The Athletics tied the score at 4-4 in the eighth inning on pinch-hitter Aledmys Diaz’s run-scoring double. Oakland left the bases loaded, though, when Nick Allen hit an inning-ending flyout.

Consecutive bases-loaded walks keyed a three-run sixth inning that put the Pirates 4-3. McCutchen and Bryan Reynolds each worked bases on balls off Shintaro Fujinami to tie the score at 3-all and pinch-hitter Jack Suwinski followed with a sacrifice fly.

The Athletics opened the scoring in the first inning when rookie Esteury Ruiz reached on catcher’s interference, stole his MLB-leading 30th base of the season and scored on Noda’s single. Seth Brown doubled in a run in the third and came home on Perez’s sacrifice fly to push Oakland’s lead to 3-0.

Connor Joe hit an RBI double for the Pirates in the fifth.

The Pirates drew 10 walks, their most in a game in nearly two years.

“We had a bunch of opportunities that we didn’t capitalize (on), but the thing I think I was most proud of is we got down and we didn’t rush to get back,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “We were still patient.”


Athletics: LHP Kirby Snead (strained shoulder) is expected to pitch in the Arizona Complex League on Tuesday, which will be his first game action since spring training. … RHP Freddy Tarnok (strained shoulder) will throw a bullpen on Tuesday.


Pirates catching prospect Henry Davis was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis from Double-A Altoona. In 41 games at Double-A this season, the 23-year-old hit .284 with 10 home runs and seven stolen bases.

“He was performing offensively at a level where we felt like he was more than ready to meet the challenges,” Pirates general manager Ben Cherington said. “He improved as an offensive player even since spring training, focusing on the things we were challenging him on. Defensively, he’s made strides too.”

Davis was the first overall selection in the 2021 amateur draft from the University of Louisville.


Athletics RHP James Kaprielian (0-6, 8.12 ERA) will make his first start in June after taking the loss in all four starts in May and face RHP Mitch Keller (7-1, 3.25). Keller has eight or more strikeouts in seven consecutive starts, the longest streak by a Pirates pitcher in the modern era (since 1901).