Crawford works 6 solid innings, Red Sox deal struggling Pirates 5th straight loss

Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Mitch Keller delivers during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Boston Red Sox in Pittsburgh on Saturday, April 20, 2024. (AP)

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Kutter Crawford allowed one run in six strong innings and the Boston Red Sox defeated the struggling Pittsburgh Pirates 4-2 on Saturday.

Crawford (1-0, 0.66 ERA) struck out six and walked three. The 28-year-old right-hander gave up a season-high seven hits after not allowing more than three hits in any of his previous four starts. He yielded two hits in each of his last three starts and has allowed three runs in 27 1/3 innings this season.

“Honestly, I like these starts a lot,” Crawford said. “I take pride in competing and trying to work out of situations like that.”

Boston entered the series having lost seven of 10 games before taking the first two of the three-game set. Pittsburgh lost its fifth straight game, and eighth in the past 10 games, after opening the season 11-5.

“I didn’t think our approach was bad often today,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “It’s just when we had some crucial at-bats, in those situations, we didn’t really execute our plan.”

Kenley Jansen picked up his fifth save, striking out the side in the ninth, including Michael A. Taylor for the second out on an automatic third strike for not being set. Shelton was tossed after arguing the strike call on Taylor.

It was Jansen’s 425th save in 15 seasons, passing John Franco for the fifth-most in major league history.

“It’s just a great accomplishment,” the 36-year-old Jansen said. “Everybody was a part of it. There are a lot more names I could mention here. I have to (give) credit to all of them to make me who I am today.”

Pirates ace Mitch Keller (2-2) was tagged for four runs and allowed five hits and four walks in six innings. After a leadoff triple by Jarren Duran, he gave up two runs in the first inning and then faced one batter over the minimum the following four innings.

Masataka Yoshida got to Keller in the sixth, sending a hanging sinker 395 feet to right-center for a two-run homer that put the Red Sox ahead 4-1.

Crawford allowed a runner in each of his six innings.

Ke’Bryan Hayes led off the fourth with a double just inside the line in right for Pittsburgh. Jared Triolo laced a two-out single to left, scoring Hayes and cutting the Pirates’ deficit to 2-1 before Crawford stuck out Oneil Cruz with runners on the corners.

Crawford escaped a bases-loaded jam with one out an inning later, striking out Jack Suwinski and Joey Bart.

“We gave him the chance to go out there and compete,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “Probably last year, he’s out of the game. We trust him.”

Connor Joe hit a pinch-hit homer to lead off the eighth for the Pirates.

“You’ve just got to score,” Pittsburgh outfielder Bryan Reynolds said. “Sometimes you go through little ruts. We’re in a rut right now. It’s still April 20. We’ve got time to make adjustments in the box, so we’re going to make adjustments.”


Red Sox: 1B Triston Casas left with left rib discomfort after drawing a walk in the first inning. Cora said more information could be provided Sunday. … INF Rafael Devers (knee) and OF Tyler O’Neill (concussion) could return Tuesday against the Cleveland Guardians, Cora said.


LHP Martín Pérez (1-0, 2.55) will take the mound for the Pirates in the series finale on Sunday. The Red Sox have not announced a starter.