|4:05 PM PT5:05 PM MT6:05 PM CT7:05 PM ET19:05 ET23:05 GMT7:05 4:05 PM MST6:05 PM EST6:35 PM VEN3:05 UAE (+1)6:05 PM CT, April 8, 2017
PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Attendance: 31,756
Polanco and Pirates get to erratic Dickey, top Braves 6-4
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By WILL GRAVES
PITTSBURGH (AP) Clint Hurdle's advice to his players on how to handle R.A. Dickey's dancing, darting knuckleball was pretty simple: don't overthink it and don't try to be a hero.
The Pittsburgh Pirates manager didn't have to tell Gregory Polanco twice. Polanco picked up three of his four hits off Dickey and drove in a run to lead the Pirates over Dickey and the Atlanta Braves 6-4 on Saturday night.
"You just try to stay short and quick because you can get too aggressive with that ball," Polanco said.
The Pirates pecked out nine hits - eight singles and Polanco's double - off Dickey (0-1), who was pleased with the process but not the results in the 42-year-old's first start as a National Leaguer since winning the Cy Young Award with the New York Mets in 2012.
"It's not like I was giving up missiles in the gaps," said Dickey, who walked four and struck out four in 5 2/3 innings. "I felt pretty in control. It was moving well and late, which is good this early in the season."
Maybe it was moving too well and too late at times for catcher Kurt Suzuki, who had three passed balls and couldn't get a handle on a wild pitch that helped Pittsburgh's Alen Hanson score a vital insurance run in the sixth without the ball leaving the infield.
"Unfortunately there were some (knucklers) that were just nasty," Suzuki said. "I got a glove on them but unfortunately it got a run on us and it ultimately helped cost us the game, that's what bugs me."
Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer also got an RBI each for the Pirates, who have won two straight after starting 0-2. Chad Kuhl (1-0) worked five occasionally wild innings to pick up the win. Tony Watson pitched out of a two-on, one-out jam for his second save in two days.
Kuhl had control issues of his own and couldn't blame it on the unpredictability of the knuckleball. He walked a career-high six, throwing just 46 of his 85 pitches for strikes. Still, he managed to avoid the big inning and was helped by the Braves hitting into three double plays . Kuhl struck out five while giving up three runs, two earned, in his first start since winning the No. 4 starter's job in spring training.
"You look at all the negatives, but at the end of the day, I made enough pitches to get the W and get outs," Kuhl said.
Suzuki was hardly alone in having issues in the field. A pair of Atlanta errors - a low throw to first by third baseman Adonis Garcia and a misplayed grounder by drawn-in second baseman Brandon Phillips , gave the Pirates extra outs they turned into runs.
"I think the motif here early in the year is that all of us are a little bit out of rhythm," Dickey said. "We're pros. We've got professionals in here. We're going to turn the page. Early on we need to be a little bit better."
After playing the opener in swirling snow and temperatures in the mid-30s for Pittsburgh's home opener on Friday, things were decidedly more pleasant a day later. Temperature at first pitch was 57 degrees, a 20 degree spike over Friday.
WALK THIS WAY
The game included three intentional walks. Two to Suzuki and one to Mercer. All three came courtesy of the new MLB rule in which teams point to first rather than throw four pitches wide of the plate.
HE SAID IT
"Maybe call some heaters and changeups, less knuckleballs," Suzuki joked when asked what he might do next time to cut down on the passed balls when Dickey pitches.
Braves: Will try to hold LF Matt Kemp out until Tuesday's game in Miami after Kemp's right hamstring tightened up following a sliding catch on Friday.
Pirates: Held 3B David Freese out of the lineup as a precaution. Freese took a ground ball off his clavicle on Friday, leading to minor swelling that made it difficult to swing.
Braves: Julio Teheran, who tossed six shutout innings while getting a no-decision in the opener against the Mets, takes the mound for Atlanta on Sunday.
Pirates: Gerrit Cole makes his second start of the season in the series finale. Cole gave up five runs, all in the fifth inning, during an opening day loss to Boston.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
Updated April 8, 2017