Pirates’ struggles continue

Pittsburgh Pirates pinch hitter John Jaso (28) breaks his bat as he hits into a double play in the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP)

ATLANTA (AP) – Adonis Garcia scored from second on an improbable stolen base attempt in the seventh inning and the Atlanta Braves beat the slumping Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 on Thursday night despite Ryan Vogelsong’s strong start.

Vogelsong allowed only one run in six innings his first start in more than two months. He left with the game tied 1-1.

Felipe Rivero (0-4) walked Garcia with one out in the seventh, and Garcia moved to second on Ender Inciarte’s single. Garcia, who has only two steals this season, broke for third base as the left-handed Rivero held the ball on the mound.

Rivero finally threw to third, but Jung Ho Kang dropped the throw for an error, allowing Garcia to score. Inciarte moved to second on the play and scored on Jeff Francoeur’s pinch-hit single to center field.

The Pirates, who began the night three games behind NL wild-card leaders Los Angeles and St. Louis, have lost five of six.

Four of the Braves’ five runs were unearned.

David Freese cut Atlanta’s lead to 3-2 with a homer to right off Chris Withrow in the eighth. Another error by Kang, who whiffed on Erick Aybar’s grounder, helped the Braves score two run in the eighth. Aybar stole second and scored from third on a liner to left field by Nick Markakis.

Garcia added a run-scoring double off Antonio Bastardo.

Hunter Cervenka (1-0) recorded two outs in the seventh when pinch-hitter John Jaso hit into a broken-bat double play on a grounder to first. Jaso didn’t leave the batter’s box.

Jim Johnson pitched the ninth for his seventh save in 10 chances.

The 39-year-old Vogelsong made his return after suffering facial fractures when he was hit by Jordan Lyles’ pitch in his start against Colorado on May 23. He had surgery on June 2 and made four minor league rehab starts in July.

Inciarte scored from third in the third inning on Aybar’s bases-loaded short bouncer that a charging Vogelsong couldn’t scoop. Aybar has a 10-game hitting streak.

Braves rookie right-hander Tyrell Jenkins allowed one run on three hits and four walks in six innings. He has at least four walks in four straight starts.

The start of the game was delayed 1 hour, 16 minutes by rain.

Inciarte had two hits, extending Atlanta’s longest hitting streak of the season to 15 games.


The Pirates released RHP Wilfredo Boscan, who had been on the Triple-A Indianapolis DL with a strained oblique, to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Vogelsong. Boscan was 1-1 with a 6.46 ERA in six games, including one start, with Pittsburgh this season. IF Max Moroff, who made his major league debut on Sunday, was optioned to Indianapolis to open a spot on the 25-man roster.


Pirates 2B Josh Harrison started in his first appearance since leaving Sunday’s game with right leg discomfort after colliding with Milwaukee’s Keon Broxton on a play at first base. … Manager Clint Hurdle said C Francisco Cervelli is feeling better after being hit by a pitch, cracking his batting helmet, on Tuesday night. Cervelli grounded out as a pinch-hitter to end the game.


Pirates: Rookie RHP Jameson Taillon (2-2, 3.52) will look for his first win since June 29 at Seattle when the Pirates open a weekend series at Cincinnati on Friday night.

Braves: Rookie Joel De La Cruz (0-3, 3.80) will make his fourth start when the Braves open a road trip against Jaime Garcia and the St. Louis Cardinals.