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The Pirates haven’t played many complete games this season, but Thursday night’s series finale against the Tampa Rays was certainly one of those times they did.

The timing was perfect as well, going up against Tampa ace Chris Archer.

The Bucs got fantastic starting pitching from Jameson Taillon, timely hitting and solid work from the bullpen. The result was a 4-0 victory as the Bucs took two-of-three- games from the Rays. Overall the Pirates have won four out of six as they try to close the first half of the season on a high note.

Taillon was the biggest story of the night, giving the Bucs 6.1 shutout innings. He allowed seven hits, walked two and struck out four, but kept Tampa off the board in his longest outing since returning from his battle with testicular cancer. In four starts since returning Taillon has posted a fantastic 2.42 ERA.

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Taillon wasn’t the only story of the night as the offense had some positive moments as well.

John Jaso and Gregory Polanco clubbed solo homers and the Bucs racked up 10 hits on the night. Andrew McCutchen went 3-for-3 while Josh Harrison also had a pair of hits.

McCutchen’s early season struggles are a thing of the past as he is hitting .397 since June 1 to raise his season average to .278.

To finish things out, Tony Watson, Juan Nicasio and Edgar Santana combined to allow just one hit over the final 2.2 innings. It was the second game in a row the bullpen pitched well and it was nice that Clint Hurdle didn’t have to use Felipe Rivero again in a non-save situation.

The Bucs are back at it tonight when they play host to the struggling San Francisco Giants. Gerrit Cole (6-6, 4.11) gets the nod for the Pirates. He will be opposed by Johnny Cueto (5-7, 4.20).

Nicasio keeping it in the park

Despite a couple bumps in the road the past couple weeks, you really have to be impressed with the season Nicasio has put together.

He could use the all-star break as it has looked at times that Nicasio was wearing down, but overall he has put together a solid 2.88 ERA on the season. He’s gotten himself in trouble with the base on balls, which is a little uncharacteristic of Nicasio this season.

One thing that has been a constant though is the fact that Nicasio isn’t going to leave many pitches over the heart of the plate that get hit hard.

After last night’s contest, Nicasio has now gone 200 consecutive batters without allowing a home run, dating back to last season. That’s the longest such streak in the National League.

He hasn’t allowed a homer this year and Pirates fans should still have a lot of confidence in Nicasio in the eighth inning nrole being able to get the ball to Rivero.

Nicasio has been so good that he could end up being the Pirates top trade chip should they become sellers at the deadline.

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Matt Shetler

Matt is a life long Pirates fan with both a newspaper and radio background. Before coming to Pirates Breakdown he was most recently the co-owner and lead columnist for Pittsburgh Sporting News. He has been a credentialed writer for all four major sports and also has written for plenty of other sports and fantasy sports websites.