PITTSBURGH (AP) — Jake Odorizzi struck out seven and Michael Harris II hit a two-run homer, helping the Atlanta Braves gain in the NL East with a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night.
Odorizzi (5-5) allowed one run on four hits in six innings, retiring 14 of the final 15 batters he faced. The right-hander had not made it past the fifth inning in his previous three outings, allowing five runs on eight hits to the New York Mets in a loss his last time out on Aug. 17.
“It’s good to see the results after what I thought I found the last start,” Odorizzi said. “Change up the mechanics, change up the windup, the set position again, just like I did the other day. Same results. Just felt way more in control, way more balanced and effective in the zone, really.”
Harris hit the 13th homer of his rookie season into the leftfield bleachers off a curveball from Roansy Contreras (3-4).
The Braves have won 12 of 14 to pull within three games of the Mets, who lost 4-2 to the Yankees.
“It’s huge. You got another win,” Harris said. “We’ll take it. It was 2-1, but they all count. We’re just trying to go out there and get win after win. We did that tonight. So, just keep trying to do that.”
Kenley Jansen struck out two in a perfect ninth for his 29th save.
Harris’ home run followed a lead-off single from Vaughn Grissom, Atlanta’s first two hits since Ronald Acuña Jr. exited a 62-minute rain delay with a double to lead off the first.
“It’s unbelievable,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Harris’ power. “For a young guy like that, you think, ‘Man, what happens when he gets strong and matures?’ That power the other way is just crazy.”
Contreras went past the sixth inning for the first time in 12 major league starts, giving up two runs on four hits with five strikeouts in seven innings. The 22-year-old has given up two runs or less in four of his past six starts in the majors.
“He was making pitches too,” Snitker said. “He kept it out of the middle of the strike zone and got some big outs. Other than Michael, we hit a couple balls, but we didn’t square anything up good off of him. He did a good job. He kept his club in the game too.”
Oneil Cruz hit his 10th homer with one out in the fifth, a towering solo shot off a cutter from Odorizzi that went 366 feet over the wall in right.
Odorizzi hadn’t allowed a runner since a single from Rodolfo Castro with one out in the second. He sent down the next five in order to end his night.
“We don’t really know what pitch we would’ve thrown different in that situation,” Odorizzi said of the Cruz home run. “It was a well-executed pitch. He had a phenomenal swing on it. For a big guy to pull his hands in like that, it’s pretty incredible. So, hats off to him. You just move forward and not really think about it too much.”
Cruz’s homer was the 42nd hit by a Pirates rookie this season, a franchise record. His 10, along with Jack Suwinski’s 14 and Diego Castillo’s 10, give Pittsburgh three rookies with at least 10 home runs in a season for the first time in its history. … Contreras is the first Pirates rookie to go at least seven innings since April 29, 2018, when Nick Kingham tossed seven shutout innings against St. Louis.
Braves: INF Ehire Adrianza (illness) was reinstated from the 10-day injured list. INF Ryan Goins was designated for assignment to make room on the active roster.
Pirates: 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes (back spasms) could return from the 10-day IL on Tuesday.
LHP Max Fried (11-4, 2.60 ERA) will go for the Braves in the second of the three-game series against the Pirates, opposite RHP JT Brubaker (3-10, 4.19) on Tuesday. Fried has allowed fewer than four earned runs in 10 straight starts. Brubaker is coming off of his best outing of the season, allowing two hits in seven shutout innings in an 8-2 win over Boston on Aug. 18.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports