PITTSBURGH (AP) — David Freese and Francisco Cervelli hit back-to-back home runs and the Pittsburgh Pirates won their home opener in snow flurries, beating the Atlanta Braves 5-4 Friday.
Freese and Cervelli went deep off reliever Josh Collmenter leading off the fifth inning. That gave Ivan Nova the cushion he would need at PNC Park, where the game time temperature was 37 degrees.
Nova (1-0) permitted just an unearned run over six innings in his first start since signing a three-year deal in the offseason to stay with the Pirates, who acquired him from the New York Yankees last summer. Tony Watson worked the ninth for his first save.
Andrew McCutchen added three hits and an RBI for Pittsburgh. Starling Marte drove in two runs as the Pirates won their fourth straight home opener.
Mike Foltynewicz (0-1) walked three in 3 2/3 innings to end a five-game winning streak dating to last season. Brandon Phillips drove in two and Ender Inciarte added an RBI double for the Braves.
The Pirates struggled to produce any offense during a brief two-game set in Boston to start the season, mustering all of three runs through 21 innings before Thursday’s finale was scrapped due to poor weather.
Things weren’t much better back home. Flurries at times obscured the iconic view of the downtown skyline and most of those in attendance appeared dressed for a Pittsburgh Steelers game in December. The starting temperature was colder than the Steelers’ games on Christmas and New Year’s Day (both 41 degrees).
Atlanta manager Brian Snitker swapped Foltynewicz and R.A. Dickey’s spot in the rotation so Dickey and his knuckleball could avoid the chill, which tends to seriously hamper the ability of his knuckleball to flit and flutter.
Foltynewicz, who sparkled down the stretch last fall for the Braves, never really grew comfortable. He hit Marte in the third, setting up an RBI single by McCutchen, who had started the season 0 for 9.
Marte added an RBI single in the fourth. Foltynewicz was pulled after walking the bases loaded later in the inning.
Nova gave up six hits, walked none and struck out four. His only trouble spot came in the fourth when he loaded the bases with one out. He fell behind Phillips 3-0, but recovered to work it full before getting a double play to end the threat.
Atlanta scored three in the eight off Pittsburgh’s bullpen but Josh Harrison started a double play with a beautiful diving stop to preserve the lead.
Braves: Atlanta LF Matt Kemp left after singling in the sixth inning as a precaution after experiencing tightness in his right hamstring. Kemp made a diving catch on a sinking line drive by Harrison in the fifth.
Pirates: Freese took a line drive from Dansby Swanson off the chest in the eighth. He appeared to be in serious pain but stayed on to finish the inning before being replaced by Phil Gosselin.
Braves: Dickey makes his return to the National League after spending four years in Toronto. The 42-year-old knuckleballer went 10-15 with a 4.46 ERA last season with Blue Jays.
Pirates: Chad Kuhl makes his first start of the season on Saturday. The 24-year-old went 5-4 with a 4.20 ERA as a rookie in 2016.
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