Reynolds’ homer lifts Bucs to win

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Bryan Reynolds wasn’t even in the conversation for playing time when the Pirates began their 2019 season. As the first half closes, he’s established himself as a key contributor to a surprising Pittsburgh offense.

Reynolds hit a three-run home run in the seventh inning to lift the Pirates over the Milwaukee Brewers 6-5 Sunday in their final game before the All-Star break.

Reynolds’ estimated 403-foot shot cleared the seats beyond the fence in right-center field and bounced toward the Allegheny River. His seventh homer of the season came after Kevin Kramer walked and Adam Frazier singled off reliever Junior Guerra (3-2).

Reynolds also hit an RBI double in the fifth and is batting .342 with a .950 OPS.

The 2016 second-round pick, who came to Pittsburgh as part of the return for Andrew McCutchen in 2018, took advantage of playing time created by injuries.

“Sometimes, at the end of the year, those teams go to the playoffs, that win it all, there’s some unexpected pleasures that happen along the way that you didn’t have walking in the door,” manager Clint Hurdle said.

The Pirates closed the first half by winning back-to-back series against Milwaukee and the Chicago Cubs to close to 2 1/2 games back in the NL Central and 44-45 overall.

“This past week for us was big,” Reynolds said. “We rattled off a bunch of wins. I’m just thankful I could help us tonight.”

Brewers star Christian Yelich did not play and pulled out of today’s All-Star Home Run Derby with a back injury. He said he plans to play in the All-Star Game on Tuesday.

“I didn’t think I was going to be able do that kind of volume of swings and what the Derby demanded,” Yelich said. “If I wasn’t going to be able to perform how I was supposed to and do it justice and give it the effort that it deserved, I didn’t think it’d be a great idea to do it.”

Jesus Aguilar hit a two-run drive in the seventh off Pirates starter Joe Musgrove that tied the game at 3. It was his second home run of the game and eighth of season. He also hit a solo shot to left off Musgrove in the fifth.