PITTSBURGH (AP) Chicago White Sox pitching remains very much a work in progress.
Their bats, however, appear to be just fine - especially on the road.
Yasmani Grandal, Luis Robert Jr., Oscar Colás had two hits and drove in two runs each as Chicago beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 11-5 on Saturday night.
Tim Anderson, Andrew Benintendi and Andrew Vaughn also had two hits each for the White Sox, who jumped on Vince Velasquez (0-2) early to end a two-game skid. Elvis Andrus also drove in two runs on a sacrifice fly and an RBI single.
“We got one job and that’s go out and hit and play defense,” Anderson said. "So, we just go out and have fun. We let the pitchers do their thing and try to back them up as much as we can. I’m sure it will come around. They compete on every pitch. All we can do is be behind them and support them.”
Chicago pounded out 14 hits in all against Velasquez and four relievers. The White Sox have at least 10 hits in all six road games this season.
Velasquez lasted just 2 2/3 innings against the team he played for in 2022 as Pittsburgh saw its four-game winning streak snapped. Velasquez struggled with his command, allowing five runs, six hits and four walks while getting just eight outs.
Mike Clevinger (2-0) wasn't nearly as crisp as he was in his Chicago debut last week, when he tossed five shutout innings against World Series champion Houston. Clevinger gave up four runs in 5 1/3 innings with two walks and a strikeout.
“It was a battle,” Clevinger said. “Kind of struggling to get the heater to drive straight. I was kind of leaking a little bit. Some really good defense behind me. And (Grandal was) working behind the plate. Lucky have this offense behind me to make it more comfortable.”
Clevinger's middling performance still marked a minor step forward for a staff that entered with a major league-high 7.70 ERA.
Andrew McCutchen had three hits, including his first home run for the Pirates since Sept. 26, 2017. Carlos Santana had three hits and drove in two runs on his 37th birthday. Rodolfo Castro added two hits for Pittsburgh, which came back down to earth a bit after an electric victory on Friday in their home opener punctuated by McCutchen's emotional return to PNC Park as a member of the Pirates.
The White Sox didn't overpower Pittsburgh as much as peck away. They broke open the game in the third when Velasquez's control abandoned him. Chicago batted around while scoring four runs on three hits, three walks and a wild pitch.
Velasquez rolled his left ankle on a pitch to Grandal that skipped past catcher Jason Delay, allowing Andrew Benintendi to score from third to make it 3-1. Velasquez stayed in the game but Grandal laced a two-run single and the White Sox were in control.
Velasquez, signed to a one-year deal in the offseason and given a chance to return to the starting rotation after working most of last season as a reliever for the White Sox, said X-rays were negative and he hopes to make his next start.
“I just landed in the wrong hole and it just seemed like everything was just kind of out of whack,” he said. “I was playing the guessing game with myself (on) whether I should land passively or aggressively, and that changed my slot a little bit with all my pitches. ”
Pittsburgh closed to 6-4 on an RBI single by Santana in the fifth but got no closer.
Chicago tacked on five runs in the seventh against Rob Zastryzny and Duane Underwood Jr.
Pirates: C Austin Hedges (concussion) caught a bullpen session and got some work in the batting cage.
The three-game series wraps on Sunday when Chicago's Michael Kopech (0-1, 13.50 ERA) faces Pittsburgh's Johan Oviedo (0-0, 7.71.) Kopech tied a career high by giving up seven runs in his first start of the season last Monday against San Francisco.
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