Pittsburgh Pirates hang on to beat Braves 10-8


Final. 8. 17. 10. 4

Pittsburgh Pirates starter Charlie Morton had a shaky start but still got the win on the back of Neil Walker and Starling Marte home runs, as the Pirates held on to beat the Braves by a score of 10-8.

What Happened

Morton struggled with his command out of the gate, as the Braves jumped on him for two runs in the first. His opposing starter, Williams Perez, did not fare much better, allowing five walks but still yet holding The Pirates to just one run until the fifth inning. Walker took a pitch deep to right field to take a 4-3 lead albeit short lived. The Braves got another run back off of Morton in the bottom of the firth.

Then the Braves made a curious decision to bring in reliever Luis Avilan,a left-handed reliever, to face the top of the Pirates order. After putting Gregory Polanco on base, Avilan served an elevated pitch to Marte, who showed a great power stroke in depositing it in the opposite field.

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From there, the teams would trade punches. The Braves got a run back in the seventh, but the Pittsburgh Pirates enjoyed another big inning in the top of the eighth. With the Braves having called in former Arizona Diamondbacks starter Trevor Cahill, The Pirates promptly put Francisco Cervelli and Jordy Mercer on base with no one out. Sean Rodriguez grounded into a double play that scored Cervelli. The Pirates weren’t done, and consecutive hits — a single by Starling Marte and a double by Andrew McCutchen, drove in two more runs. The Pirates took a 9-5 lead into the bottom half of the frame.

Tony Watson came in to pitch, and in very uncharacteristic fashion, gave up two runs, only one earned, and had to leave without finishing the frame. Jared Hughes came in, got the final out, and we went on to the ninth.

Cervelli continued his hot night, with his fourth hit of the contest scoring Josh Harrison, who came in to pinch-hit and delivered a standup double. That would be all for the Pirates, as Mercer grounded into a double play to end the inning and leave the Pirates with a 10-7 lead.

Enter Mark Melancon.  The Pirates closer came in and promptly got Juan Uribe to ground out, and it seemed like it would be business as usual for the reliable Pirates closer. A.J. Pierzynski singled in the next at-bat, and then the wackiness of the night made one last appearance. Todd Cunningham offered up a tailor-made double play ball, but Melancon made a throwing error and his throw to second was in the dirt and rolled into centerfield. Pierzynski went to third on the play. Former Pirate Pedro Ciriaco then brought Pierzynski home with a single to left.

Pittsburgh Pirates fans breathed a huge sigh of relief after Joey Terdoslavich then grounded into a double play to end the game.

What Stood Out

Home runs from Walker and Marte were a welcomed sight, but the story of the night would be some combination of Morton, Watson, and the struggling Pirates defense. The Pirates committed four errors on the night. The team now ranks sixth in all of baseball with 42 errors. Watson did not look sharp from the jump, and could not complete an inning for the first time in recent and not-so-recent memory. Morton struggled but went to 3-0 on the season.

We would be remiss if we did not point out that Cervelli had a fantastic night, going 4-for-5 with two RBI. In doing so, he raised his average to .331,  which leads the team by far. In his post game comments, Cervelli was asked how he is doing it during his recent hot streak.

His answer: “I see the ball, and I swing the bat.”

Indeed he does.

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What’s Next

The Pittsburgh Pirates (30-24) will face Julio Teheran and the Braves (26-28) in the second game of the series tonight at 7:05pm EST. The Pirates will throw out Jeff Locke, who is very much in danger of losing his spot in the rotation with another bad outing. The Braves have their best chance to steal a game from the Pirates in this one, as they will face Gerrit Cole on Sunday.

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