Walker, Marte, Mercer hit HRs to fuel victory against Diamondbacks

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The Pirates used three home runs in their victory Wednesday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks. One came from a familiar source, one from a new arrival.

Neil Walker hit one of the home runs on the way to a five-RBI night in a 7-6 win against the Diamondbacks at PNC Park. Another came from rookie Jordy Mercer, who was making his sixth career major league start.

Mercer hit a 1-2 pitch from reliever Josh Collmenter to left in the sixth inning, padding the Pirates' lead. Mercer was hitting .217 in 23 major league at-bats entering the game.

"When I looked up, I saw [first-base coach] Luis [Silverio's] hand up," Mercer said. "He was going to slap my hand before I hit first base. That's when I knew it was out."

Mercer hit 19 home runs in the minors in 2011, a season he split between Class AA Altoona and AAA Indianapolis.

"I put a good swing on it," Mercer said. "It was fun."

Walker hit his 13th home run, a three-run shot in the first. Starling Marte homered to center for the second consecutive night.

The Pirates trail the Cincinnati Reds by 21/2 games in the NL Central after the win.

The Pirates played the seventh in a thunderstorm that briefly dumped heavy rain on the playing field. Thunder and lightning continued as the rain slowed, illuminating the skyline for the remainder of the night.

The Pirates committed four errors , two by Garrett Jones.

"We were probably longer on guts tonight than we were on execution," manager Clint Hurdle said.

Chris Resop and Chad Qualls each allowed a run -- Resop's was unearned -- but Joel Hanrahan saved his 33rd game with three strikeouts in the ninth.

"Our bullpen did a nice job of staying away from the big hit," Hurdle said.

The Diamondbacks wasted no time against Kevin Correia.

Stephen Drew led off with a double and Willie Bloomquist bunted for a single, putting men on first and third with no outs. Chris Johnson, who hit two home runs Tuesday night, singled to score Drew. Paul Goldschmidt's sacrifice fly gave the Diamondbacks a 2-0 lead.

Walker erased the lead in the bottom half of the first.

Andrew McCutchen and Jones hit two-out singles before Walker hit a 2-2 changeup into the seats above the Clemente Wall in right.

The homer was Walker's ninth since July 2. He had a .639 slugging percentage since that date going into the game.

The Pirates aided the Diamondbacks in the fifth. Correia walked two batters, putting men on first and second for Bloomquist, whose double scored Gerardo Parra.

Correia struck out Johnson, but Pedro Alvarez couldn't handle Goldschmidt's ground ball. Drew scored on the error, tying the score, 4-4.

The Pirates loaded the bases in the third, but could not score.

They capitalized, however, on another opportunity two innings later, when two singles and an error loaded the bases in the fifth.

Walker doubled to left-center, scoring two runs and giving the Pirates a 6-4 lead.

Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson replaced starter Ian Kennedy with Matt Albers at that point.

Albers' pitch to Rod Barajas got to the backstop, and Jones left third to try to score. Instead, the ball bounced directly to Miguel Montero, who chased Jones back to third before throwing him out. Barajas struck out to end the inning.

Tony Watson struck out Chris Young looking with the bases loaded to end the seventh, prompting a tirade from Young, who was ejected almost immediately after the call by home plate umpire Larry Vanover.

Young had to be separated from Vanover and was escorted to the dugout.

Justin Upton also was ejected for arguing with the umpires after the inning.

The Pirates got a solid outing from Correia, who made a spot start to give the rotation an extra day of rest.

He allowed four runs, three earned, in six innings of work, walking three and striking out five.

"I actually thought that overall he pitched maybe better than his line," Hurdle said.

"I thought he competed very well."


Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and on Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published August 9, 2012 4:00 AM


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