Pittsburgh Pirates beat Padres 3-2 behind big Polanco RBI


127. 3. 4. Final. 2

In yet another game featuring a rain delay, and this time a lengthy one, the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the San Diego Padres 3-2 just before midnight in the second game of the series. The Pirates went into the game knowing that they were without Josh Harrison and Starling Marte, but Francisco Cervelli was a late scratch as well. But they got the win and coupled with the St. Louis Cardinals losing both games of their doubleheader at Wrigley Field against the Cubs, the Pirates are now only 4.5 games out of first place in the NL Central with a record of 49-34.

The Padres took the lead in the third inning when Matt Kemp‘s double scored both Derek Norris and Yonder Alonso. These were the only two runs Francisco Liriano would surrender in the six innings that he pitched. His night was definitely cut short due to the lengthy rain delay, but he still managed six strikeouts and has an ERA under 3.00 going into his next start.

The Pirates got one run back in the bottom of the third when Andrew McCutchen doubled and brought in Neil Walker. There was a great opportunity to take the lead with the bases loaded in that inning, but Pedro Alvarez struck out to end it.

In the bottom of the fifth, Walker started the inning with a single. McCutchen sent a ball deep to left that Justin Upton leaped to catch in the stands (Pirates’ fans, you have to try to catch that. He is in your territory). While that catch will be talked about for a while, it did not end the inning and the Pirates still had a runner in scoring position. Jung Ho Kang smacked a pitch to right field and it skipped past Matt Kemp, giving Kang a triple and allowing Walker to round third and score to tie the game.

The game would remained tied until the bottom of the eighth inning when the Pirates took the lead. Joaquin Benoit began the inning when he hit Sean Rodriguez. Chris Stewart moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt and he came around to score on a triple off the bat of Gregory Polanco. Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless ninth and earned his league-leading 28th save and moved the Pirates slightly closer to the Cardinals as the pivotal weekend series approaches.

What Stood Out
In terms of pitching, last night went about as by the book as it could. Liriano gave the team six strong innings, even pitching after a long rain delay and still turning in a quality start. Then, Jared Hughes, Tony Watson and Melancon each pitched a scoreless inning to secure another win for the Pirates. When things work out and Clint Hurdle can deploy those three bullpen arms in that order, the opposition is in a bad spot.

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It was nice to see two players who each assumed part of Harrison’s role play integral parts last night. Kang, taking over for Harrison at third, added a triple and drove a run in. Polanco, the team’s new leadoff hitter, also tripled and brought the winning run across.

What’s Next

The three-game series wraps up tonight when Andrew Cashner and Charlie Morton face off as the Pirates go for the sweep and try to gain more ground on the Cardinals. Cashner’s last two outings have been very good, as he’s limited opponents to just three runs over 13 innings. He has had a number of starts where he got hit pretty hard, so he has been known to get knocked around. Morton will look to continue distancing himself from the disastrous start he turned in at Washington and build off of the last two that were weren’t great, but weren’t terrible either.

Next: Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 mid-season review