PITTSBURGH (AP)The Pittsburgh Pirates’ season has been going downhill since the All-Star break and it got even worse Tuesday night.
Marco Gonzales allowed six hits in seven innings, Austin Nola and Omar Narvaez hit back-to-back home runs and the Seattle Mariners beat Pittsburgh 6-0 after Pirates All-Star closer Felipe Vazquez was arrested on multiple felony charges earlier in the day.
The Pirates lost their fourth straight game and fell to 21-41 in the second half.
Vazquez was charged with statutory sexual assault, soliciting a child and pornography, and placed on administrative leave by Major League Baseball.
Vazquez was taken into custody by Pennsylvania State Police on one count of computer pornography/solicitation of a child and one count of providing obscene material to minors, both felonies, stemming from an investigation in Florida. He was later charged in Westmoreland County, which is located east of Pittsburgh, with felony counts of statutory sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor and corruption of minors and a misdemeanor count of indecent assault of a person under 16 years old.
”It was a definitely a weird situation throughout the day,” losing pitcher Mitch Keller said. ”But once the game comes then everyone is focused on the game, what’s going on there and trying to compete.”
Gonzales (16-11) struck out four, walked none and doubled and scored in the fifth inning. The left-hander has set career high in wins, starts (32) and innings pitched (189).
Gonzales has two starts remaining and is hopeful of reaching 200 innings.
”The one main goal was to make all my starts this year and to be a reliable guy for this team and just help us win ballgames,” Gonzales said. ”We have a couple more to go. But I’m happy I stuck to that process. It’s been very relieving to have to commit to that and hopefully sustain that throughout my career.”
Sam Tuivailala and Reggie McClain each pitched one inning to complete the eight-hitter.
Narvaez and Nola each had three hits, and their consecutive home runs in the sixth inning off Michael Feliz extended the Mariners’ lead to 4-0. Shed Long led off the seventh with a homer off Williams Jerez as Seattle won its third straight game.
Nola, a 29-year-old rookie, has seven hits in his last two games following a 1-for-18 skid.
”You know how baseball goes,” Nola said. ”It’s back-and-forth. You try to stay even and get some walks and work an at-bat and have a competitive at-bat. I think that’s what it comes down to.”
Keller (1-5) gave up two runs in five innings and the rookie fell to 0-4 in his last six starts. The Pirates’ Jose Osuna and Erik Gonzalez each had two hits.
Dee Gordon opened the scoring with a second-inning sacrifice fly and Gonzales scored on J.P. Crawford’s single to make it 2-0. Narvaez drove in the last run with a single in the seventh.
Workers removed a banner depicting Vazquez from outside PNC Park prior to the Pirates losing their fourth game in a row. Team president Frank Coonelly, general manager Neal Huntington and manager Clint Hurdle addressed the players in a pregame meeting and there was a somber mood in the clubhouse afterward.
By the time the game ended, Vazquez’s locker had not only been cleaned out but given to infielder Corban Joseph, who joined the team after being claimed off waivers from San Francisco on Monday.
Vazquez’s arrest came eight days after he and fellow reliever Kyle Crick got into a clubhouse fistfight at San Francisco and were fined. Crick needed season-ending surgery to repair a torn extension tendon in his right index finger.
In July, reliever Keone Kela and bullpen coach Euclides Rojas were each suspended two games by the Pirates for their involvement in separate incidents.
”We talked about a lot of different emotions,” Hurdle said of the pregame meeting. ”How do we connect and see our way through those emotions? How do we continue to find ways to improve and hold ourselves to a high standard, on and off the field, and what can we do from an organizational standpoint to help?”
Mariners: OF/DH Domingo Santana (strained right elbow) was activated from the injured list and grounded into a double play as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning.
Pirates: 1B Josh Bell (strained left groin), CF Starling Marte (sprained right wrist) and C Jacob Stallings (back spasms) could miss the rest of the season, Hurdle said. … RHP Chris Stratton (right side inflammation) was reinstated from the IL.
The Pirates called up INF Jake Elmore from Triple-A Indianapolis to add depth to their injury-depleted roster. A spot on the 40-man roster opened for Elmore when Vazquez was placed on the restricted list.
Kela is expected to replace Vazquez as closer.
Mariners RHP Justin Dunn (0-0, 27.00 ERA) will face RHP Dario Agrazal (4-4, 4.91) on Wednesday night in a matchup of rookies. Dunn made his major league debut Sept. 12 against Cincinnati and allowed two hits and five walks in two-thirds of an inning. Agrazal gave up three runs in four innings in his last start, a no-decision Sept. 11 at San Francisco.
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