The Padres' Andrew Cashner scores the tying run against Pirates John Buck in the ninth inning at PNC Park Wednesday night.
By Bob Smizik Special to the Post-Gazette
As defeats go, they don't come much tougher than this one.
After apparently snatching a win away from the San Diego Padres with a heroic home run by MVP-in-waiting Andrew McCutchen in the seventh inning, the Pirates held a one-run lead as the normally invincible Mark Melancon took the mound to pitch the ninth.
Most times, it doesn't get much better than that. Not this time.
The Padres had two out, the second being a strike out, and a runner on first. Melancon was in charge. Victory was within easy reach. And then it all unraveled.
A single moved the tying run to second. Then another single scored it. And then yet another brought home the lead run. Incredible!
The Pirates were dead. Garrett Jones, Starling Marte and Neil Walker went down in order in the ninth.
What was taking place on the scoreboard involving St. Louis, Cincinnati and Washington meant little. This astonishing defeat at PNC Park meant everything.
The Pirates wasted a superb pitching performance by Charlie Morton -- eight innings, one run, three hits, two walks, nine strikeout.
Worse, they continued to be in a batting slump of monster proportion. They managed only three hits, two harmless singles by Justin Morneau and the McCutchen home run to right-center -- with Walker on first via a strikeout and a wild pitch.
The Pirates remain in good position to make the playoffs. They remain in a poor position to do anything in the playoffs.