Mitch Keller keeps torrid May going by keeping Atlanta in check in Pittsburgh's 4-1 win over Braves

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Mitch Keller pitched into the seventh inning, Nick Gonzales delivered an RBI double and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Atlanta Braves 4-1 on Saturday.

Keller (6-3) kept Atlanta in check for 6 2/3 innings to win his fourth consecutive start. The right-hander gave up one run on six hits with four strikeouts and no walks. Keller is 4-0 with a 1.30 ERA in May and has worked at least five innings in each of his last 42 starts, the longest active streak in the majors.

“I think (I'm) just filling the zone up, attacking guys, getting ahead and staying ahead, using the full mix of my arsenal," Keller said. “I’ve got a lot of pitches, so the more I can use it, the more it keeps them off-balance.”

Perhaps just as importantly against the Braves, Keller returned to the mound following a 30-minute rain delay in the fifth. He worked through the middle of Atlanta's order in the sixth and got the first two outs of the seventh before being lifted after hitting Zack Short.

“I was hoping he’d get us three outs and the fact that he got us five outs was huge,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said of Keller. “That’s the story of the game. How sharp he was.”

Bryan Reynolds had two hits for Pittsburgh, including a run-scoring single in the seventh that gave the Pirates a little breathing room on a day they wore throwback caps to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the 1979 team's World Series title.

Several players from that club — including Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven, reliever Kent Tekeulve and two-time National League MVP Dave Parker — were honored before the first pitch.

Gonzales doubled and scored for the Pirates and is hitting .307 with 14 RBI in 15 games since being called up from Triple-A Indianapolis. The 24-year-old hit just .209 in 35 games in the majors last season because of what he called “holes” in his swing.

Those “holes” have shrunk considerably so far in 2024.

“I’m just in a better position with my swing and timing and getting a good swing off,” Gonzales said.

Pittsburgh's bullpen, which struggled in a pair of late collapses to San Francisco earlier in the week, avoided a meltdown against the Braves. Colin Holderman retired four of the five batters he faced after replacing Keller. David Bednar induced Ronald Acuna Jr. into a game-ending fielder's choice with two on in the ninth to pick up his 11th save.

Atlanta's Reynaldo López (2-2) wasn't quite as sharp as he's been during the best two-month stretch of his nine-year career. The right-hander — who began the day with a 1.54 ERA, third-lowest in the majors — only retired the Pirates in order once and was dinged by the bottom half of the lineup during 4 2/3 so-so innings. López gave up three runs, two earned on five hits with a walk and three strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings as his ERA ticked up to 1.75.

The Braves offense managed just one extra-base hit off Keller, a double by Ozzie Albies in the first. Jarred Kelenic provided an RBI single in the fourth but Atlanta did little else while suffering a second straight loss.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Pirates: 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes (back) has resumed full baseball activities. It's unclear whether the Gold Glove winner, out since May 7, will need a rehab assignment before returning. ... C Jason Delay (knee) is scheduled to begin a rehab stint at Triple-A Indianapolis next week.

UP NEXT

The series wraps up on Sunday when Atlanta's Chris Sale (7-1, 2.22 ERA) goes for his seventh win in as many starts. Martín Pérez (1-3, 4.80), winless since April 4, gets the nod for Pittsburgh.

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