Josh Bell sees plus in Pittsburgh’s late spurt amid loss to Cubs

Josh Bell sees plus in Pittsburgh’s late spurt amid loss to Cubs

SAN DIEGO, CA - Josh Bell #55 of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Austin Hedges #18 of the San Diego Padres watch the flight of Bell's three-run home run during the third inning at Petco Park in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

While the Pirates' bats showed show some life late Friday night, they mostly struggled again in dropping the first leg of a five-game road trip to the Cubs, 6-3.

After being one-hit Wednesday by the Brewers, the offense had two hits going into the eighth inning Friday. There, they did manage to scrap out a run on a Jarrod Dyson single, snapping a 16-inning scoreless streak, before Josh Bell and Colin Moran went deep on back-to-back Craig Kimbrel pitches in the ninth.

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“Tonight, obviously the best swings we took of the night were in the ninth, which was encouraging, especially the middle of our order taking good swings,” Derek Shelton said afterward. “Bell and Moran hitting the homers. I thought we hit five balls really hard in the ninth, with the last three at people. That’s an encouraging sign moving forward.”

The offense is looking for any encouraging signs they can find at the moment. Seven members of their lineup Friday currently have a season batting average below .200, with the two exceptions being Moran -- who now has a share of the league lead for home runs with four -- and Cole Tucker, who has been a part-time starter so far. Moran is the only one with an OPS of at least .650.

“Good things are coming,” Bell said. “We just have to keep pressing forward. Keep trusting the work day. Keep trusting the routine. Keep trusting our preparation for these guys. Once they come, they’re going to come in bunches. We’re going to score a lot of runs. It’s going to be a lot of fun baseball.”

Bell’s home run was his first of the season, getting it over the wall down the right field line despite breaking his bat.

“That was a first,” he said.

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