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Rookie Gonzales homers and triples in home debut as Pirates beat Padres

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Pirates used the seventh overall pick in the 2020 draft on Nick Gonzales in part because of the power he's able to generate out of his slight 5-foot-9 frame.

Nearly three years later, that power is finally on display in the major leagues.

Gonzales tripled in the second inning for his first big league hit, and then drilled a 442-foot homer to center as the Pirates broke out of an extended funk with a 9-4 win over San Diego on Tuesday night.

Asked if he typically deposits a ball that far beyond the wall during batting practice, the 24-year-old just laughed and said: “I don't hit many homers during BP, that's for sure."

Maybe that's why Gonzales found himself staring a little longer than usual at the drive that reached the batter's eye for his first major league homer.

“I wasn’t really sure where it would land,” he said. “Rounding first base, seeing it hit the wall was pretty cool.”

So was seeing the Pirates emerge from a 1-12 slide that dropped them from first to fourth in the NL Central, a freefall in which the offense failed to score more than three runs 10 times.

There were no such issues against San Diego spot starter Reiss Knehr (0-1) and three relievers. Pittsburgh racked up 16 hits and went 7 for 15 with runners in scoring position after going just 3 for 25 in that category while dropping three of four in Miami over the weekend.

Carlos Santana had three hits, including his seventh homer of the season. Andrew McCutchen collected three singles, rookie Henry Davis added two hits and outfielder Jack Suwinski ended an 0-for-29 funk by hitting a solo homer in the third.

"(To have) both Henry and Nick having good days, I think that’s really important,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said.

Rich Hill (7-7) put together six steady innings in the rain to improve to 7-1 in his last 11 starts against the Padres. Roansy Contreras worked three innings for his first major league save.


Ha-Seong Kim had three hits and drove in two runs for San Diego. Nelson Cruz and Brandon Dixon added two hits each but the Padres began a six-game road trip through Pittsburgh and Cincinnati with a thud.

San Diego left starting pitcher Yu Darvish back home due to an illness, giving Knehr his first major league start since 2021 on short notice. Knehr, who had unimpressive numbers in three relief appearances this season, ran into trouble in the second.

Gonzales provided a spark when he hit the ball off the 21-foot-high Clemente Wall in right. He then dashed home on a single by McCutchen as the Pirates quickly erased a three-run deficit while handing the Padres their sixth loss in eight games.

“We scored three runs and had good momentum then they scored three and that shouldn’t have been it for us,” Padres manager Bob Melvin said. "It just seems like they had a little bit more spirit the rest of the game that we did.”


McCutchen, who signed a one-year deal to return to his adopted hometown in January, shrugged his shoulders at hearing his name pop up as a potential trade target. The 36-year-old is having a solid season, hitting .278 with a .397 on-base percentage that is eighth in the majors.

“All I can say is where I want to be,” McCutchen said. “At the end of the day, that has nothing to do with where I end up.”


Buffalo Bills defensive back and Pittsburgh native Damar Hamlin mingled with the Pirates — swapping jerseys with closer David Bednar — before throwing a ceremonial first pitch.

Hamlin, who is back practicing with the Bills after nearly dying on the field in Cincinnati in January, has the Pirates “P” logo tattooed on the left side of his neck.

“I feel like the biggest staple to our city is that ‘P’, that Pirates logo,” Hamlin said. “So that's everything to (me). I've got it inked on me forever. Just to be home and to be able to throw out the first pitch is a kid's dream. I feel like a kid on Christmas here today.”


Padres: Placed reliever Steven Wilson on the 15-day injured list with a strained right pectoral. Melvin said Wilson sustained the injury while pitching a scoreless inning against Washington on Saturday. The club promoted reliever Drew Carlton from Triple-A El Paso to take Wilson's spot in the bullpen.

Pirates: RHP Colin Holderman (right wrist) threw 25 pitches during live batting practice. Holderman is eligible to come off the IL on Friday.


The series continues Wednesday when San Diego's Blake Snell (4-6, 3.22 ERA) gets the start against Pittsburgh's Mitch Keller (8-3, 3.45 ERA).


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