PITTSBURGH (AP) — Colin Moran hit a first-inning grand slam in his debut at PNC Park, Jameson Taillon tied a career high with nine strikeouts and the Pittsburgh Pirates held on for a 5-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins in their home opener on Monday.
Moran, part of a trade that sent Gerrit Cole to Houston in January, sent a full-count fastball from Lance Lynn into the seats above the Clemente Wall in right field to stake the Pirates to an early lead they nursed to just their third 4-0 start in 35 years. Gregory Polanco added an RBI double and reached base five times for Pittsburgh.
Taillon allowed two runs and four hits in 5 1/3 innings, but his stellar work was nearly undone by a shaky bullpen
He left with a runner on and 5-1 lead in the sixth only to see the Twins score three more times in the inning. Minnesota put the tying run on base in both the seventh and eighth but couldn’t pull even.
George Kontos worked a perfect ninth for his second career save, Closer Felipe Rivero was unavailable after saving both ends of a doubleheader on Sunday in Detroit.
Brian Dozier homered for the second straight day for the Twins. Eduard Escobar had two hits and an RBI. Max Kepler also drove in a run for Minnesota.
Lynn lasted just four innings in his first game with Minnesota since signing a one-year deal with the Twins last month. He struggled with his location, walking six and striking out just one.
Three walks in the first helped set the stage for Moran, who sent a chest-high offering from Lynn over the 21-foot high Clemente Wall for just the third grand slam in a Pittsburgh home opener according to STATS, joining Hall of Famers Ralph Kiner in 1949 and Roberto Clemente in 1962.
Moran, among four players acquired from the Astros for Cole, made a brief curtain call to the 30,186 in attendance, the smallest crowd for a Pirates home opener smallest since 28,985 at Three Rivers Stadium in 1982.
Part of the slide had to do with the 40-degree temperature at first pitch and part apathy stemming from the offseason trades of Cole and 2013 NL MVP Andrew McCutchen for prospects.
Either way, the Pirates have tied their best start since beginning the 2003 and 2016 seasons 4-0.
Pirates: Placed RHP Joe Musgrove on the 10-day disabled list retroactive to March 30 with a muscle strain in his right shoulder. Musgrove had been scheduled to start on Thursday against Cincinnati. … SS Jordy Mercer left in the sixth inning with discomfort in his right hand.
Twins: Jake Odorizzi makes his second start for the Twins on Wednesday after being acquired in a mid-February trade with Tampa Bay. Odorizzi pitched six shutout innings in his 2018 debut last week against Baltimore.
Pirates: Ivan Nova (0-0, 3.60 ERA) is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA in two career starts against Minnesota.
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