If on Tuesday morning you predicted Jeanmar Gomez would make a spot start and throw five scoreless innings to lead the Pirates to a win later that night, it might be time to buy a lottery ticket.
Less than three hours after getting word he would start, Gomez lifted the Pirates to a 4-1 victory with a strong but short outing at PNC Park.
"A guy comes into your office at 4 o'clock and you tell him he's going to start, to get that effort, we were real happy," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He continues to show up and do a very professional job, whatever we ask him to do. [Tuesday] was above and beyond the call of duty."
Gomez struck out five, allowing two hits and two walks to earn his second win of the season and first as a starter.
He pitched in place of James McDonald, placed on the disabled list late Tuesday afternoon with right shoulder discomfort. Gomez was pulled after throwing just 66 pitches -- 41 strikes -- after throwing 79 pitches last week in a start against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Seattle Mariners vs. Pirates, 12:35 p.m., PNC Park.
- TV, Radio:
Root Sports, KDKA-FM (93.7).
Felix Hernandez (4-2, 1.60 ERA) vs. RHP A.J. Burnett (3-2, 2.57).
- Key matchup:
Burnett vs. Jason Bay, who is 8 for 22 (.364) with one home run and six RBIs in his career against Burnett.
- Hidden stat:
In his only career start against the Pirates, Hernandez struck out nine in eight scoreless innings. But no player from that 2007 Pirates team remains on the roster.
"It was a little bit hard because you've thrown already," Gomez said. "You played catch and do your workout before the game. But if the team needs me and the manager tells me he wants me to pitch today, it's 'OK, I'll be ready.' "
McDonald approached the training staff hours before his scheduled start because lingering soreness from his most recent start had not subsided.
"I felt sore," McDonald said. "Way more sore than I should feel on a start day."
He said he has battled shoulder soreness throughout the season, "but not to this extent." He will be evaluated by doctors today.
The Pirates got all the runs they needed in the first inning, when they pounced on Seattle starter and former division foe Aaron Harang. The Pirates took a 2-0 lead early by stringing together three hits before Harang could record an out.
Starling Marte led off the first by hustling for an infield single. Travis Snider followed with an RBI double to right-center field, his eighth double of the season. Snider scored when Andrew McCutchen had his team-leading 18th RBI on a double to left-center field.
McCutchen went 4 for 4 with an RBI and a run to continue his recent hot streak. In the past seven games, McCutchen is hitting .464 with four runs and five RBIs.
"He's in a better place with his balance at the plate and his rhythm," Hurdle said. "He's a process, focused guy. He's probably not as caught up in the results as people think he's going to be."
But McCutchen was stranded on the bases when Garrett Jones grounded out, Michael McKenry flied out and Pedro Alvarez struck out.
Alvarez went 0 for 3 with three strikeouts and has struck out in six of his past 11 at-bats.
Harang, who spent eight seasons with Cincinnati, allowed two earned runs on five hits in six innings. He struck out six without allowing a walk.
Mark Melancon struck out two in a 1-2-3 inning to pick up his major league-leading 12th hold of the season. He has an 0.53 ERA this season with 17 strikeouts and no walks in 17 innings. Jason Grilli earned his league-leading 13th save.
The Mariners halved the Pirates' lead in the seventh on Jesus Montero's pinch-hit, RBI double to right-center field, scoring Dustin Ackley to make it 2-1. Ackley singled off Tony Watson with one out, and Montero doubled off Jose Contreras.
Jones gave the Pirates two insurance runs in the eighth with a two-out, two-run home run off Seattle reliever Carter Capps. The home run, Jones' fourth of the season, came on a 2-2 fastball.
A good defensive play by Seattle first baseman Justin Smoak prevented the Pirates from adding to their lead in the third. With runners on first and second and two outs, McKenry hit a low-flying line drive destined for right field. But Smoak lunged and snagged the ball out of the air for the third out.
Gomez escaped a third-inning jam to preserve an early two-run lead. He gave up a two-out single to leadoff batter Michael Saunders and walked Jason Bay to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. But Gomez got Kyle Seager to fly out to right field to end the threat.
Michael Sanserino: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1722 or on Twitter @msanserino. First Published May 8, 2013 2:00 AM