PITTSBURGH (AP) Rowdy Tellez homered and drove in three runs and six Pittsburgh relievers kept the Twins in check as the Pirates beat Minnesota 4-0 on Saturday.

Tellez, who has been frequently booed at home of late while in the throes of a season-long funk, turned on a changeup from Simeon Woods Richardson and dropped it just over the center-field wall with one out in the seventh for his first homer since March 31.

The crowd that jeered Tellez when he was introduced before the game-turning at bat then asked for a curtain call. Tellez, who signed a one-year deal with the Pirates in the offseason, obliged on a day his batting average rose to .208.

“Hasn’t been a lot of ups so it’s nice to go out there and hear my name,” Tellez said. "I’m trying to do the best I can for everybody. Trying to be that leader, that player that needs to produce. That’s what they brought me here to do and we’re going to get that going and keep it going.”

The first baseman added a two-run single in the eighth to provide some breathing room as the Pirates won for the fourth time in five games.

“To be able to (hit that homer) was really cool, and then to come up again and get the big hit to extend the lead in the eighth was huge for us to get insurance runs," Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. "It was outstanding, and I give our fans a ton of credit because I know he was feeling it.”

Hunter Stratton (2-1) picked up the win thanks to a spectacular catch by second baseman Nick Gonzales to end the seventh. Minnesota had two on with two out when pinch-hitter Manuel Margot hit a flare into shallow center field that Gonzales tracked down to make a sliding over-the-shoulder grab.

“It’s kind of one of those in that situation if it drops it changes the ballgame, so I was just running at it,” Gonzales said.

Michael A. Taylor, back from paternity leave following the birth of his son on June 2, delivered an RBI single in the eighth. Andrew McCutchen had three hits for the Pirates. Bryan Reynolds had two to extend his hitting streak to seven games.

The Twins have dropped five straight after being shutout for the second consecutive game. Minnesota will take a 22-inning scoreless streak into Sunday’s series finale. The Twins had six hits - all singles - and only one player reached third base.

“Just have to go out there and hit some balls hard," Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. "That’s the simplest way of saying it. Some of this is probably mental at this point and not the physical aspect of going out there trying to hit a line drive.”

The lack of offense spoiled another solid start by Wood Richardson (2-1). The 23-year-old rookie struck out six against one walk and made just one real mistake that Tellez turned into a cathartic blast.

“Sim was phenomenal,” Baldelli said. “I thought he was on top of his game.”

The Pirates, who have three starting pitchers - Martin Perez, Marco Gonzales and Quinn Priester - on the injured list, were forced to rely exclusively on their bullpen.

Carmen Mlodzinski got the first five outs before giving way to Luis Ortiz, who was in the mix to earn the fifth spot in the starting rotation during spring training before being sent to the bullpen.

Ortiz, who has thrived in a relief role, entered and held Minnesota scoreless for 4 1/3 innings. Justin Bruihl, Stratton, Colin Holderman and David Bednard also put up zeros as the Pirates recorded their third shutout victory in five days.


The series concludes on Sunday when Pittsburgh rookie Jared Jones (4-5, 3.25 ERA) faces Minnesota's Bailey Ober (5-4, 4.94). Jones is coming off an impressive performance in his last start against the Los Angeles Dodgers when he tossed six shutout innings.


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