SEATTLE (AP) — It took one batter and two pitches for the Pittsburgh Pirates’ plan of attack against talented young righty George Kirby to go sideways.
That turned out to be a very good thing for the Pirates.
Andrew McCutchen hit the 21st leadoff homer of his career, the first of four home runs off Kirby, and the Pirates matched a franchise record with seven long balls on their way to an 11-6 win over the Seattle Mariners on Friday night.
“Some of us were just laughing to each other just because the game plan we had going in wasn’t to slug the whole game the way we did,” said Pittsburgh’s Jack Suwinski, who hit two homers.
But slug the Pirates did. The seven home runs more than doubled Pittsburgh’s previous high for a game this season (three) and marked the third time since 1901 the Pirates hit seven in a game. They previously did it in 2003 and 1947, both against St. Louis.
“We stayed in attack mode, and we stayed throughout the whole game,” manager Derek Shelton said.
McCutchen’s towering drive on the second pitch of the game was his eighth of the season and just the beginning for the Pirates. Suwinski had his second multi-homer game of the season, with a two-out, two-run shot to center field off Kirby in the fifth inning and a long solo homer to right in the seventh.
Bryan Reynolds finished with four RBIs on a two-run triple, an RBI single and his seventh homer all in his final three at-bats.
Carlos Santana, a key piece of Seattle’s playoff run last season, Ke’Bryan Hayes and Tucupita Marcano all added solo shots. Santana’s homer was his first since April 7. Hayes’ homer was his second of the season, first since April 15, and it ended Kirby’s night after 4 2/3 innings.
“We were just locked in, putting the barrel on the ball, driving the ball,” Reynolds said. “It doesn’t happen every day so it was nice that we were able to feed off each other.”
Kirby (5-4) endured his most miserable outing of the year. The seven earned runs and four homers allowed both matched career highs from last season when he was knocked around in a loss to Baltimore. Kirby gave up nine hits and struck out four.
“We left too many balls up to a team that hits the high fastball,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said.
It was supposed to be a stellar matchup of two young right-handers with Kirby and Pittsburgh’s Mitch Keller on the mound. Keller wasn’t at his best, either, but worked into the seventh to win his third straight decision.
Keller (6-1) allowed six runs on seven hits and struck out eight. He came back out for the seventh inning even with a big lead and promptly gave up a two-run homer to J.P. Crawford that ended his night.
“The thing that I really liked about it is Mitch Keller last year, Mitch Keller the year before, gives up eight. He didn’t. He grinded through it, gave us a start to be able to win the game and I think that just shows his maturity,” Shelton said.
Julio Rodríguez hit an opposite-field homer in the first inning for Seattle and added a two-run single in the fifth.
Seattle’s Ty France was hit on the brim of his helmet by a 93 mph fastball from Keller in the fifth. It was the second time this week France received a scare from an inside fastball. He was hit on the outside of his left hand Tuesday against Oakland and sat out one game due to swelling.
Pirates: RHP Vince Velasquez (4-3, 3.06 ERA) will make his eighth start of the season Saturday and first since early May. Velasquez has been on the injured list due to elbow inflammation after throwing just three innings against Tampa Bay on May 4.
Mariners: RHP Luis Castillo (3-2, 2.97) threw six shutout innings in his last start against Oakland after struggling for the better part of a month. Castillo struck out eight and scattered four hits against the A’s. He’s 5-4 with a 2.51 ERA in 13 career starts against Pittsburgh.