- Associated Press - Thursday, May 19, 2016

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Mike Foltynewicz knew finding a way to improve upon his previous start - eight shutout innings against the world champion Kansas City Royals - was going to be difficult.

Too difficult, it turned out.

The Atlanta Braves right-hander struggled putting away the Pittsburgh Pirates in an 8-2 loss on Thursday night, giving up five runs in three innings, with all five runs coming with two outs.

The 24-year-old gave up a two-run single to Starling Marte in the first and let a two-out triple to John Jaso in the second eventually morph into Gregory Polanco’s two-run homer that gave the Pirates all the separation they needed.

“I think I just tried to do too much,” Foltynewicz (1-2) said. “I tried to throw the ball too hard. I tried to throw the slider and the curveball a little too much there in certain situations with two strikes. Everything was just up and then they got the bat on it.”

It wasn’t the crisp display last week against Kansas City, when he kept the Royals off balance by effectively mixing his pitches and hitting his spots. Getting ahead of the Pirates wasn’t a problem. Getting outs was another matter.

“They were finding the gaps, but overall his command just wasn’t real good,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “I’d say finishing hitters off, for me, was the biggest thing.”

The Braves gave up 29 runs while dropping three of four to Pittsburgh, a reminder of the work ahead for Snitker, who took over on Tuesday after the club fired Fredi Gonzalez.

“There’s going to be growing pains,” Snitker said. “I’m going to hang in there with them, keep working with them, and at some point in time, we’re going to be the ones mis-hitting balls over infielders’ heads and putting up a bunch of runs for them; give them a little of breathing room.”

Jeff Francouer went 3 for 4 with his fifth home run of the season, the one Brave who had success against Jeff Locke (2-3), who gave Pittsburgh’s bullpen a break by getting through seven innings while giving up just two runs.

“He was just spotting (pitches) up on the inside corner and it’s tough if you do that,” Francouer said.

Jaso finished with three hits and Polanco continued his recent surge by going 2 for 5. The left fielder is hitting .461 (12 for 26) in his last seven games, including his shot to left-center off Foltynewicz, a place few lefties reach at PNC Park.

“You just have to tip your cap to Polanco there on the curveball,” Foltynewicz said. “It looked like he was waiting for it and took it the opposite way.”

AYBAR OUT

Atlanta was forced to scratch Erick Aybar a few hours before the game after the shortstop arrived at PNC Park expressing discomfort in his chest after swallowing a chicken bone. He was taken to a local hospital and replaced by Daniel Castro, who went 0 for 4 as his averaged dropped to .198.

Snitker said Aybar was fine and returned to the team during the game but was unable to play because he’d been sedated while undergoing treatment.

LONG TIME COMING

Wilfredo Boscan pitched two scoreless innings in his major league debut for Pittsburgh, finally making his way onto the mound, a call he never received while getting called up from Triple-A Indianapolis three separate times last season.

“I’ve definitely been waiting for this opportunity since last year,” Boscan said. “It’s been a very emotional night. I’m just excited to give my 100 percent.”

Boscan replaced reliever Cory Luebke, whose long comeback from two reconstructive elbow surgeries hit a speed bump when the Pirates sent him to Indianapolis. The 31-year-old Luebke made the team as a non-roster invitee in spring training but struggled in four appearances, including giving up three runs while getting just one out on Monday. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said he hopes Luebke, who missed three full seasons while his left elbow recovered, will get regular work in the minors in hopes of regaining his form.

UP NEXT

Braves: The 10-game road trip continues Friday in Philadelphia. Matt Wisler (1-3, 3.14) will try to build on an impressive May. The 23-year-old is 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA this month and has worked into the eighth inning in each of his last three starts.

Pirates: Open a three-game weekend series with the Colorado Rockies on Friday. Gerrit Cole (4-3, 3.05), coming off eight shutout innings in a win over the Cubs last Sunday, will start. Pittsburgh swept three games from the Rockies in Colorado last month.


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