KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Andre Jackson pitched two-hit ball into the sixth inning in his first major league win, and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Kansas City Royals 4-1 on Wednesday night for a three-game sweep.
Jackson (1-1) struck out a career-high seven and walked two in 5 2/3 innings. The 27-year-old right-hander, who made his big league debut in 2021 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, allowed one run in his 20th major league appearance.
“We saw in the fourth and fifth his velo started to tick down,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. ”But the changeup still played. He was able to execute some pitches.”
Jackson became the first Pirate to strike out the first five batters in a game since Bruce Kison in 1979. But the last part of his outing was more difficult.
“I felt like I started out strong and then kind of lost a little steam,” he said. “I tried to get ahead of guys. I battled.”
Bryan Reynolds and Jack Suwinski homered for the Pirates (61-73), and Vinny Capra hit an RBI double.
It was the first sweep for Pittsburgh since June 27-29 versus San Diego. The Pirates limited the Royals to four runs and 12 hits in the series.
“We pitched well,” Shelton said. “That’s where it starts. We did a really good job. (Jackson) did a good job starting out the game with five punchouts to get his first career win. Overall we just played solid baseball all around.”
Kansas City was swept for the 12th time this year. The Royals (41-94) have dropped six in a row and are on pace for 113 losses, which would break the club record of 106.
Bobby Witt Jr. hit his 27th homer for Kansas City. Witt, who has 38 steals, is trying to become the first player in franchise history to finish with at least 30 homers and 30 steals in the same season.
Royals left-hander Angel Zerpa (1-3) gave up three runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings.
“His stuff was good in the first couple of innings,” Kansas City manager Matt Quatraro said. “He just struggled to get it in the zone. He was all around the zone at the beginning. But then, as he started to get more efficient in the zone he got quick outs.”
After Jackson departed, Ryan Borucki, Thomas Hatch, Colin Holderman and David Bednar combined for 3 1/3 innings of two-hit ball. Bednar worked the ninth for his 29th save.
The Pirates jumped in front when Reynolds launched a 436-foot drive to left-center in the first inning. It was his 19th homer this season.
Pittsburgh scored two more in the second. Capra drove in Liover Peguero with a double for his first career extra-base hit and RBI. Suwinski added a run-scoring single.
Witt responded with a leadoff shot in the fourth. He also drove a pitch to the wall in right-center with a runner on in the sixth, but Suwinski chased it down.
Suwinski connected in the seventh for his first homer since July 24 and No. 22 on the year.
“It’s challenging to do everything you can and still go through tough stretches,” Suwinski said. “It was great having the team carry me.”
Royals: C Salvador Perez was scratched because of tightness in his upper back/neck. … RHP John McMillon was placed on the 15-day injured list with a right forearm strain. RHP Taylor Clarke was reinstated from the family medical emergency list.
Pirates: RHP Mitch Keller (11-8, 4.01 ERA) starts Friday night in the opener of a three-game series at St. Louis. RHP Dakota Hudson (5-1, 4.41 ERA) takes the mound for the Cardinals.
Royals: Following an off day, Jordan Lyles (3-15, 6.51 ERA) faces Boston left-hander James Paxton (7-4, 3.99 ERA) on Friday night in the opener of a three-game set against the visiting Red Sox.