When Edinson Volquez returned to the dugout after walking two batters on nine pitches in the first inning, pitching coach Ray Searage had some instructions.
"He slowed me down," Volquez said. "I was too fast to the plate and everything was late, with my hands, to get the ball where I wanted. After the first inning he came to me and said, slow down, stay back and make the right pitches, and I did."
Volquez held the Philadelphia Phillies to one run in seven innings in the Pirates' 3-2 win Saturday afternoon in front of a sellout crowd of 37,821 at PNC Park. Andrew McCutchen hit a two-run home run and Jordy Mercer doubled twice. The Pirates won their fifth consecutive series and won for the 11th time in 14 games.
"We're doing everything," catcher Chris Stewart said. "Driving in runs, our starting pitching's been outstanding, going deep into ballgames, saving the bullpen arms. The bullpen's coming in, doing their job out of there. "
Volquez (7-6) issued two walks each in the first and third innings and allowed a runner to third base each time, but prevented the Phillies from scoring. A groundout and a flyout helped him escape the first. He loaded the bases in the third, but struck out Marlon Byrd swinging to strand the runners.
"I just think he stopped overthrowing," Stewart said. "Settled in. He trusted his stuff, he didn't try to make it better than it normally is and I think that was the result."
Stewart also mentioned to Volquez that his delivery had accelerated, but Searage's message hit home.
"Ray talked to me, 'Slow down, stay under control and go pitch,' " Volquez said. "I was like, 'You're right, I'm pitching.' He was like, 'No, you're hurrying.' "
Cody Asche homered on a 1-2 changeup into the first row of seats above the Clemente Wall to lead off the fourth. Crew chief Dale Scott initiated a 1-minute, 39-second review to ensure the ball cleared the fence and was not interfered with by a fan, but the call was confirmed and the Pirates' lead reduced to 3-1.
Domonic Brown singled after Asche's home run. After that, Volquez retired 11 of the final 12 batters he faced.
"It was a very, I thought, gritty performance by him ... because he spent a lot of time out of the stretch again," manager Clint Hurdle said.
Mark Melancon allowed a home run to Byrd in the ninth, but recorded his 16th save. Tony Watson pitched a scoreless eighth.
Phillies rookie starter David Buchanan (4-5) had walked nine batters in his previous two starts, spanning 10 innings, but his only walk Saturday was an intentional one to Mercer. He allowed three runs in six innings.
The Pirates won despite going 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position and securing only one run out of a bases-loaded, no-outs situation in the second. They had only two hits in the final seven innings.
Gregory Polanco began the first with a bloop single to left field. Buchanan threw a first-pitch fastball down the heart of the plate to McCutchen and he deposited it into the bullpen for his 13th home run this season.
Volquez helped the Pirates add to their lead in the second. Pedro Alvarez singled, Mercer doubled and Buchanan hit Stewart with a pitch to load the bases. Volquez bounced a weak grounder to shortstop, scoring Alvarez from third, and the Pirates led, 3-0.
Asked about driving in the run, Volquez called over to fellow starting pitcher Francisco Liriano, a few lockers to his left. "Frankie! Frankie! You hear that? RBI, brother," Volquez joked to the RBI-less Liriano. "I got two already."
Bill Brink: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @BrinkPG.
First Published July 5, 2014 6:57 PM