PITTSBURGH (AP) — Mitch Keller pitched his first career complete game and Rodolfo Castro hit a two-run homer as the Pittsburgh Pirates snapped their seven-game losing streak with a 2-0 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Monday night.
Keller (4-1) shut out the Rockies on four hits while striking out eight and walking one in a game that took just 1 hour, 55 minutes. The fifth-year veteran had never pitched into the eighth inning before.
“It’s really special, a really cool thing, especially to do it with these guys because we’ve been struggling,” Keller said. “We used the fastball a lot — two-seam, four-seam, cutter — and they were working. Other than that, it was just going out and executing and letting the defense work. It was just an all-around great effort.”
It was the first nine-inning shutout by a Pirates pitcher since Jameson Taillon on April 8, 2018, against Cincinnati and just the eighth since 2000. Keller threw 77 of his 103 pitches for strikes.
Pirates catcher Austin Hedges was impressed by how effortless Keller made things look.
“I crouched for, like, 12 minutes today,” Hedges said with a smile. “My legs feel amazing. I told Mitch, ‘Dude, it’s like 8:30 right now.’”
Castro’s homer off Kyle Freeland in the seventh carried into the bullpens in center field and broke a scoreless tie.
Freeland (3-4) also had a strong start, giving up two runs and seven hits in seven innings with four strikeouts and three walks. The left-hander got some defensive help as catcher Elias Díaz twice completed inning-ending double plays by throwing out runners attempting to steal.
“(Keller) was throwing really well and Kyle was, too,” Colorado manager Bud Black said. “What a great pitchers’ duel.”
The last Rockies catcher to complete two double plays with caught stealings in one game was Yorvit Torrealba in 2006 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“I can’t thank him enough,” Freeland said of Díaz. “That’s top-tier defense right there. He’s always working his butt off behind the plate for me.”
On April 17, Freeland was tagged for nine runs over 2 2/3 innings in a loss to the Pirates at Coors Field. Pittsburgh swept that three-game series, outscoring the Rockies 33-9.
Ke’Bryan Hayes had two hits in his third straight multi-hit game for the Pirates, who hold a slim but surprising lead in the NL Central.
The Rockies got two hits from Kris Bryant. Colorado, last in the NL West, had won six of seven.
Connor Joe led off the seventh with a single for Pittsburgh. Castro followed with his fourth home run of the season.
“I’m just grateful to be the guy who could help the team win after a rough seven games,” Castro said.
The Rockies put runners in scoring position just twice against Keller, and he induced groundouts to end both threats. Colorado fell to 5-2 in May after going 7-20 in April.
Keller lowered his career ERA against the Rockies to 0.39 in four games, three of which have been starts.
Bryant got his 1,000th career hit in the first inning with a single. He broke into the big leagues with the Chicago Cubs in 2015 and was the National League MVP a year later.
Rockies: OF Yonathan Daza cleared waivers and was sent outright to Triple-A Albuquerque. He was designated for assignment last Friday.
Pirates: INF/OF Chris Owings had his contract selected from Triple-A Indianapolis, and the team optioned INF/OF Mark Mathias to the same club. Owings, an 11-year major league veteran, started at shortstop and went 1 for 3.
Pirates: Rookie INF/OF Ji Hwan Bae missed his third straight game with a sprained left ankle.
RHP Luis Ortiz will make his season debut for the Pirates when he faces Rockies RHP Connor Seabold (0-0, 5.30 ERA) on Tuesday night.
Ortiz joined the team Monday from Indianapolis and was placed on the taxi squad after going 2-1 with a 2.23 ERA in seven starts at Triple-A. Seabold will be looking for his first MLB win in his eighth career start.