Bell, Pirates seek three-game sweep of Angels




The Pittsburgh Pirates have won consecutive games for the first time since the All-Star break.

The next quest is making it three straight wins for the first time since July 1-3, and they look to achieve that feat when they complete a three-game road set against the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday.

The Pirates, who were just 4-24 since the All-Star break when they arrived in Anaheim, have racked up 20 runs and 30 hits while winning the first two games. Pittsburgh has smacked six homers among 12 extra-base hits while prevailing by scores of 10-2 and 10-7.

All-Star slugger Josh Bell has homered in both games of the series, giving him four long balls in the past three contests after he endured a 26-game homerless drought.

Bell's homer on Tuesday leaves him one behind Bobby Bonilla (32 in 1990) for most in a single season by a switch hitter in Pirates history.

"Bell is doing what we know he's capable of doing," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told reporters after the Tuesday victory. "He's putting an exclamation point on things right now. Josh is doing a lot of things that he did when he was having success earlier in the season. He has better rhythm than he did when he was struggling."

Rookie left fielder Bryan Reynolds also has homered in the first two games of the series. He had three hits on Tuesday to take over the major league lead in batting average (.338).

The National League Rookie of the Year chatter is being dominated by New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso and exciting San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., but Pittsburgh right-hander Trevor Williams -- the winning pitcher on Tuesday -- is impressed with Reynolds.

"It's unfortunate for Bryan that there are so many good rookies in his class, but Bryan is making a strong case," Williams said after getting the win Tuesday. "It's a treat watching him play. He's a great hitter."

Meanwhile, the Angels have dropped 14 of their last 18 games.

Star center fielder Mike Trout is hitless in eight at-bats over his past three games after going deep five times over the previous nine games. However, he has seven walks over the past three contests.

Angels manager Brad Ausmus was disappointed with his team's pitching and defense on Tuesday.

The Pirates scored two runs on one play in which Bell singled with runners on first and third. Left fielder Justin Upton threw to third base with nobody covering the bag as one run scored, and pitcher Griffin Canning retrieved the ball and overthrew second while trying to cut down Bell to allow another run to cross the plate.

"The overthrow to third was a little bit of a strange play," Ausmus said. "Third baseman and shortstop going out, left fielder coming in, (Canning) went to back up home plate in case the ball's caught and there's a tag-up. It's a little different. Ideally, the pitcher floats between third and home and he can cover third. But it's not a play you see a lot."

Chris Archer (3-8, 5.23 ERA) will be on the mound for the Pirates on Wednesday as he bids to halt an 11-start winless stretch.

The 30-year-old right-hander hasn't been victorious since beating the Atlanta Braves on June 6.

However, Archer has pitched well in his last two starts -- both no-decisions -- while striking out 15 in 12 innings.

He gave up one run and five hits with six strikeouts and two walks in six innings against the Mets on Aug. 3. Six days later, Archer struck out nine without a walk while allowing two runs and seven hits in six innings against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Archer was superb against the Angels when he was a member of the Tampa Bay Rays, going 6-1 with a 2.20 ERA in eight starts. He has not faced Los Angeles as a Pirate.

Archer has never allowed an extra-base hit to Trout (5-for-22, eight strikeouts), and he has shut down Kole Calhoun (2-for-16).

Left-hander Dillon Peters (2-1, 3.45 ERA) is slated to start for the Angels.

Peters lost to the Boston Red Sox in his last turn on Thursday. He allowed three runs and five hits in six innings while matching his career best of eight strikeouts.

The 26-year-old gave up two homers against the Red Sox and has served up four over his past three appearances.

Peters has faced Pittsburgh once in his career, when he allowed two runs in six innings during a 7-2 win for the Miami Marlins on April 13, 2018.

--Field Level Media

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