In quest for better pitching, short starts adding up for Pirates

In quest for better pitching, short starts adding up for Pirates

CINCINNATI — The usually reliable Pirates bullpen ended up costing them both ends of Monday’s doubleheader against the Reds, including in a 9-4 loss in game two at Great American Ball Park.

In game one, Sam Howard allowed a walk-off home run. In game two, Nik Turley surrendered the eventual game-deciding three-run homer to Mike Moustakas in the fifth, and Geoff Hartlieb lost complete control of where his pitches were going in the sixth, walking four and hitting a batter without recording an out.

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“All three of those guys have been really good executing,” Derek Shelton said after the game. “Tonight, we didn’t execute.”

Not that they’re looking for an excuse, but if they needed one, they could point to the amount of innings the bullpen had to cover Monday. Even though doubleheader games are just seven innings long, starters Cody Ponce and Mitch Keller only covered about half of the workload needed. Ponce was pulled after four innings in game one, and Keller after three in game two.

At least those shorter outings were planned on Monday. Keller was making his first start since Aug. 1, being sidelined for almost the entire season with left oblique injury.

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