Bell making strides on defensive side

Kang begins basic baseball activities; Glasnow could return Saturday

Bell making strides on defensive side

PITTSBURGH -- Josh Bell started at first base Wednesday for the fourth straight game, reinforcing the Pirates' suggestion that he will play more often than not after being called up from Triple-A Indianapolis on Saturday.

So don't be surprised if Bell keeps starting games down the stretch. And don't be surprised if the slugging prospect doesn't finish many of those games at first base, either.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Lights-out Nova hurls 98-pitch CG at Astros

Lights-out Nova hurls 98-pitch CG at Astros

PITTSBURGH -- Gregory Polanco homered twice Tuesday night, leading a resurgent Pirates offense out of its brief funk. But Ivan Nova hardly needed the help, throwing a complete game in a 7-1 win over the Astros at PNC Park.

Nova put an end to Pittsburgh's four-game losing skid, breezing through Houston's lineup and ending the Astros' four-game winning streak. He also reversed both clubs' recent fortunes in the Wild Card standings. The Pirates pulled back within 2 1/2 games of the Cardinals for the second National League Wild Card spot, while the Astros fell 4 1/2 games behind the Orioles in the American League race.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Polanco's 2-HR game leads lineup breakout

Pirates right fielder also in the middle of 6 straight hits to open 4-run first

Polanco's 2-HR game leads lineup breakout

PITTSBURGH -- Four out of every five days, every time he's not starting, Ivan Nova finds Gregory Polanco in the dugout to ask a simple question: "Hey, when are you going to hit a homer?" To which Polanco politely replies, "One day. One day, I will."

One day came Tuesday, and Polanco went deep twice for Nova. Not just to satisfy his daily query, but to support the starter's complete-game gem, snap Pittsburgh's offensive slump and lead the Pirates to a 7-1 win over the Astros at PNC Park.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kingham among top prospect performers Tuesday

Top Mets prospects continue to show off talent at Double-A

Kingham among top prospect performers Tuesday

Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith proved worthy of their elite prospect rankings as the duo led Double-A Binghamton to a 9-1 victory over Hartford on Tuesday night.

The duo, ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the Mets' system, combined to go 6-for-10 with five RBIs in just the latest of several good offensive games for both players.

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William Boor is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Two-seamer has become Taillon's primary pitch

Two-seamer has become Taillon's primary pitch

PITTSBURGH -- Jameson Taillon spent more than a year refining his mechanics, preparing himself to effortlessly pitch down in the zone. A little more than a week before his Major League debut, the Pirates made one more tweak to help turn Taillon into a ground-ball machine.

Before his second-to-last start in Triple-A, Taillon met with pitching coach Stan Kyles, pitching coordinator Scott Mitchell and assistant GM Kyle Stark to talk about his pitch selection. Primarily a four-seam fastball pitcher, Taillon always threw a two-seamer as a situational pitch, a weapon to be deployed in specific situations.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates sign Freese to 2-year extension

Veteran infielder eager to help Pittsburgh win WS championship

Pirates sign Freese to 2-year extension

PITTSBURGH -- David Freese sat on a concrete block in the bowels of Dodger Stadium, expecting the question and wasting little time before answering it. Could he see himself staying in Pittsburgh beyond this year?

"For sure," he said a little more than a week ago. "Absolutely."

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Taillon's solid start isn't enough to slow Astros

Taillon's solid start isn't enough to slow Astros

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates rookie Jameson Taillon threw eight strong innings on Monday night, but it wasn't enough to stop his childhood-favorite team. The Astros stayed hot in their pursuit of an American League Wild Card spot, riding seven scoreless innings from Doug Fister to a 3-1 win in the series opener at PNC Park.

Houston won its fourth straight and remained 3 1/2 games back in the AL Wild Card race. Pittsburgh appears to be heading in the opposite direction after losing four in a row, a skid in which the Bucs have totaled nine runs. With the loss, the Pirates fell 3 1/2 games behind the idle Cardinals in the National League Wild Card chase.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ending of Astros-Pirates game intense for young fan

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Ending of Astros-Pirates game intense for young fan

Baseball is a game of intense emotions. Happy, sad, excited, frustrated, both fans and players alike ride the roller coaster on a daily basis. 

On Monday night, the Astros took the opener of a series from the Pirates, 3-1, at PNC Park. As seen atop this post, the final out of the game was especially eventful -- after a throwing error from Astros rookie Alex Bregman, a decision by Pirates' third baseman David Freese and a stellar throw from Houston first baseman Marwin Gonzalez.  

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What is impact of Freese deal on Pirates?

Pittsburgh signs infielder to two-year contract extension

What is impact of Freese deal on Pirates?

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates infielder David Freese signed a two-year, $11 million contract extension on Monday, making him the latest in a growing line of players to commit to Pittsburgh for the long haul.

"It's the best street cred in the game," manager Clint Hurdle said. "When you develop that type of culture and you have this type of environment, these are some of the byproducts."

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates confident their cool bats will heat up

Offense manages just 5 hits in squandering Taillon's strong outing

Pirates confident their cool bats will heat up

PITTSBURGH -- Monday night brought cooler evening air than PNC Park has felt most of the summer, but what played out on the field followed a more familiar script.

The Pirates got the pitching they needed in a series-opening 3-1 loss to the Astros, but their bats were too often silent. Pittsburgh lost its fourth straight game, and the offense has produced a total of nine runs in those four losses.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Check out a young Jameson Taillon in full Astros gear

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Check out a young Jameson Taillon in full Astros gear

As Jameson Taillon pitched against the Astros on Monday night, he didn't have any conflicts on who he wants to win: It was the Pirates all the way. But if there were some sort of time-space continuum rift and a child-version of the pitcher was to arrive at the game, well, he might feel a little different. 

After all, Taillon hails from Woodlands, Texas, a town roughly 40 minutes outside of Houston. So growing up he naturally was a huge Astros fan. 

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Vogelsong solid but Pirates drop finale

Vogelsong solid but Pirates drop finale

PITTSBURGH -- From spot starter to staple in the rotation. That's what the Marlins are asking of Jose Urena, and the right-hander came through with a composed six strong innings that set the tone in a 3-2 Miami win over the Pirates on Sunday at PNC Park.

Christian Yelich knocked a first-inning home run off Ryan Vogelsong, and the Marlins were able to complete a three-game sweep that puts them 1 1/2 games ahead of Pittsburgh in the National League Wild Card race. After recording its first sweep at Pittsburgh since 2011, Miami remains 1 1/2 games behind the Cardinals for the second Wild Card spot.

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Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

George Von Benko is a contributor for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh and covered the Pirates on Sunday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Prospect Bell gets 1st big league start

Prospect Bell gets 1st big league start

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates fans have been clamoring for first baseman/outfielder Josh Bell to join the big league club. A shoulder injury that landed third baseman Jung Ho Kang on the 15-day disabled list created an opportunity for Bell, who made his first Major League start at first base in Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Marlins at PNC Park.

Bell went 1-for-3 with a sacrifice fly and a strikeout.

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George Von Benko is a contributor for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Vogelsong brushes off scare, keeps Bucs in it

Vogelsong brushes off scare, keeps Bucs in it

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates right-hander Ryan Vogelsong may have taken the loss in Sunday's 3-2 defeat to the Marlins at PNC Park, but the veteran once again proved his toughness. 

Vogelsong had a scare in the third inning when he tried to bunt. He went down when Marlins starter Jose Urena came in high and tight as the ball hit the bat. He dusted himself off and executed a sacrifice on the ensuing pitch.

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George Von Benko is a contributor for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kuhl solid, but Pirates stifled by Marlins

Kuhl solid, but Pirates stifled by Marlins

PITTSBURGH -- No matter the role, reliever or starter, David Phelps has delivered. The right-hander stepped up yet again on Saturday night, striking out nine and allowing just two hits in the Marlins' 3-1 win over the Pirates at PNC Park.

Backed by Xavier Scruggs' two-run homer, the first blast of his career, the Marlins claimed the first two games of the series and moved to within 1 1/2 games of the Cardinals -- and a half-game ahead of the Bucs -- in the chase for the second National League Wild Card spot.

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Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com based in Pittsburgh and covered the Pirates on Saturday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kang likely out 2-4 weeks with shoulder injury

Kang likely out 2-4 weeks with shoulder injury

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates placed third baseman Jung Ho Kang on the 15-day disabled list with a left shoulder injury, the team announced before Saturday night's game against the Marlins. Kang is expected to miss 2-4 weeks.

First baseman/outfielder Josh Bell was recalled to take Kang's spot on the roster. Bell was available off the bench for Saturday's game.

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George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Pirates on Saturday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Leadoff man Harrison has 3 of Bucs' 4 hits

Leadoff man Harrison has 3 of Bucs' 4 hits

PITTSBURGH -- Second baseman Josh Harrison was much pretty much the Pirates' offense in a 3-1 loss to the Marlins on Saturday night at PNC Park.

Harrison collected the only two hits that Miami starter David Phelps surrendered, and he added an RBI single off reliever Kyle Barraclough. Those were three of Pittsburgh's four hits on the night.

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George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Pirates on Saturday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cole remains confident amid 'weird luck'

Cole remains confident amid 'weird luck'

PITTSBURGH -- Right-hander Gerrit Cole saw his struggles continue Friday night as he battled through 6 2/3 innings, but his record stayed at 7-8 as he received a no-decision in the Pirates' 6-5 loss to the Marlins at PNC Park.

"He goes into the seventh inning and gives up three runs, I wouldn't use the term 'bad,'" Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Inconsistent with some sequences. I thought there was improvement in some areas. Some rather strong sequences, he competed very well. They were able to nick him three times for solo runs in three different innings. The misfires are kind of elevated over the plate where they are getting the majority of their hits."

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George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Pirates on Saturday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates let late lead slip in loss to Marlins

Pirates let late lead slip in loss to Marlins

PITTSBURGH -- In search of a spark, the Marlins found it on Friday night in a veteran who had not appeared in the big leagues since 2013. Robert Andino, recently called up from Triple-A New Orleans, made his first start in left field and came through with an RBI single in the ninth inning that lifted Miami to a 6-5 win over the Pirates at PNC Park.

But the comeback win for Miami wasn't secured without some drama in the bottom half of the ninth. After the Pirates loaded the bases with one out against Fernando Rodney, Andrew McCutchen bounced a ball to Martin Prado, who stepped on third and completed the game-ending double play at first.

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Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

George Von Benko is a contributor for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh and covered the Pirates on Friday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Outfield trio lives up to top defensive billing

Outfield trio lives up to top defensive billing

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates' outfield is regarded as one of the best in the Majors, and it flashed some leather in a 6-5 loss to the Marlins on Friday night at PNC Park.

Starling Marte notched his National League-leading 15th outfield assist when he threw out Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto at the plate in the fourth inning.

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George Von Benko is a contributor for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Watson settling into closer role for Bucs

Watson settling into closer role for Bucs

PITTSBURGH -- Tony Watson is adjusting to the closer's role with the Pirates. He has pitched well since taking over after Mark Melancon was traded away, earning seven saves so far in August.

"I feel good," Watson said. "After the first couple, I've settled in and feel comfortable out there in the ninth inning. The first couple were adrenaline-packed. I learned how to settle in to that and just go out there and be me and trust my stuff and try to do the job."

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George Von Benko is a contributor for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Meadows, Keller among top prospect performers Friday

Phillies' slugger impresses in doubleheader; Rays' No. 2 fires six scoreless

Meadows, Keller among top prospect performers Friday

For much of the season, it's been either Dylan Cozens or Rhys Hoskins pacing the Minor Leagues in home runs. On Friday, it was Cozens who took the outright lead as he belted his 36th and 37th home runs to help power Double-A Reading to a 9-1 rout against Erie in Game 1 of a doubleheader.

Cozens began the game 0-for-3 at the plate before he launched a solo shot in the top of the eighth inning. The Phillies' No. 7 prospect wasn't done yet, however, as he connected on a two-run homer in the following frame.

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Freese 'at peace' with life, baseball

Veteran has found a perfect fit in role with Pirates

Freese 'at peace' with life, baseball

David Freese's extended offseason ended on March 11, in the middle of Spring Training, when he signed a one-year contract with the Pirates. The next morning, he walked into the media room connected to the McKechnie Field clubhouse, wearing a gray T-shirt with green sleeves and a smile he couldn't erase, and expressed something he repeated earlier this week.

"This winter was good for me," Freese said. "It was just a great part of my life where I was trying to be more."

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates ride big burst in 5th to sweep of Giants

Pirates ride big burst in 5th to sweep of Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Pirates and Giants continued heading in opposite directions, particularly in the fifth inning of their series finale Wednesday, when Andrew McCutchen's two-run homer capped a six-run outburst that pushed Pittsburgh past San Francisco, 6-5.

"We know we're not always going to win, but we know if we play our best baseball, we're going to be hard to deal with," said McCutchen, the leader of a revitalized Pirates lineup.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McCutchen breaks out to lead surging Pirates

Center fielder caps 5-1 road trip with two-run homer in big inning vs. Giants

McCutchen breaks out to lead surging Pirates

SAN FRANCISCO -- Four months into the worst season of his outstanding career, Andrew McCutchen has turned a corner. And the Pirates have rounded into form along with their star center fielder.

"I've turned something," McCutchen said after going 2-for-4 with a tiebreaking homer in the Pirates' 6-4 win over the Giants on Wednesday at AT&T Park. "I don't know if it's turning a page or a corner or something. Yeah, things are going well for us. Going well for me, too."

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Working slowly a 'weapon' for Pirates' Bastardo

Working slowly a 'weapon' for Pirates' Bastardo

SAN FRANCISCO -- You didn't need a stopwatch Tuesday night to see that Pirates reliever Antonio Bastardo was taking his time on the mound. It was evident in the other players' body language and it was audible in the stands.

"I think it's one of the things he does purposefully," manager Clint Hurdle said Wednesday morning. "I know last night it got maddening for everybody but him."

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates avoid accidental intentional walk

Cervelli misreads dugout signal, calls for free pass in ninth

Pirates avoid accidental intentional walk

SAN FRANCISCO -- The intentional walk was on, then off, except it was never really on in the first place.

The Pirates' 4-3 win over the Giants on Tuesday night at AT&T Park ended in unusual fashion, as catcher Francisco Cervelli mistakenly called for an intentional walk with runners on second and third and one out, only for pitching coach Ray Searage to rush to the mound and call it off. Two pitches later, closer Tony Watson defused the jam and sealed Pittsburgh's third straight win.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Polanco showing power, prowess vs. lefties

Polanco showing power, prowess vs. lefties

SAN FRANCISCO -- With one smooth, powerful swing Monday night, Gregory Polanco provided proof of two giant strides he's taken this year.

Batting with two outs in the sixth inning against Giants starter Matt Moore, Polanco swung at the first pitch he saw, a 92 mph fastball, and lined it just over the 24-foot wall in right field and into McCovey Cove. What was so significant about the two-run blast?

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.