PITTSBURGH (AP) — Nathan Eovaldi pitched a complete game for the second time in five starts after throwing just two in the first 226 of his major league career, leading the Texas Rangers over the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-1 on Tuesday night.
Eovaldi (6-2) allowed six hits, struck out five and walked one, his fifth straight start of at least seven innings. The 33-year-old right-hander, a 12-year big league veteran, pitched a three-hit shutout in a 2-0 win over the Yankees on April 29.
“Right now, I feel like I’m really locked in,” Eovaldi said. “We’re staying on top of the mechanics and just the little things, making sure we’re doing the work. … A lot of things have to go into a complete game. We were able to score runs early, we had the lead. Any time we have the lead, it’s my job to prevent them from scoring.”
Eovaldi threw 71 of 104 for strikes after tossing 113 game against the Yankees.
“The key is just how efficient he’s pitching,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “He didn’t really have a stressful inning. Gave up the one run, but besides that, it’s pretty easy work for him.”
Texas has won four of five, losing Monday’s series opener 6-4 . Pittsburgh has split its last eight games after losing 11 of 12 and has not won a series since taking two of three at Washington on April 29 and 30.
Rich Hill (4-4) gave up five runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings with a season-high nine strikeouts.
“I think if you want to look at it as a good outing, fair outing or whatever, in my mind, that’s not a championship mindset,” Hill said. “You’ve got to hold yourself to a higher standard and you’ve got to be able to execute pitches throughout the entire game.”
Josh Jung hit his 11th home run of his first full season in the majors to give the Rangers a five-run lead in the eighth, crushing a curveball from Duane Underwood Jr. 444 feet to left. The 25-year-old hit five home runs in 26 games last year after debuting on Sept. 9.
“Love the way he comes down here every day and just works to get better, gives you good at bats,” Bochy said. “I really thought this kid would have a nice year. I know it’s early, but I still feel that way, trust me.”
Two Texas runs came in on balks, one from Hill for the second of two runs in the first and another by José Hernández that capped a three-run sixth.
Pittsburgh’s Ji Hwan Bae was picked off first in the third inning, then overran second and was tagged out on Andrew McCutchen’s eighth-inning single. The Pirates committed three errors and had five wild pitches in their previous loss, an 8-3 rout to Arizona on Sunday.
“The tolerance is we have to be better in those moments,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “We’re still going to continue to teach because we have a bunch of young players and they’re going to make mistakes.”
Bryan Reynolds drove in the Pirates’ run with a third-inning double.
Rangers: C Mitch Garver (left knee sprain) and OF Travis Jankowski (right hamstring strain) joined Triple-A Round Rock for rehab assignments. Garver, who has been out since April 8, is expected to DH the first two games before catching the third. Jankowski has not played since experiencing hamstring tightness against the Angels on May 7.
Pirates: 1B Ji Man Choi fielded groundballs from his knees before the game. He is on the 60-day injured list with a left Achilles sprain sustained April 13.
LHP Martín Pérez (5-1, 4.01) will take the mound for the Rangers in the series finale Wednesday afternoon, opposite Pirates RHP Johan Oviedo (3-3, 4.69).