Pirates lose to Braves, 5-4, in extra innings

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ATLANTA -- Andrelton Simmons' RBI double in the bottom of the 10th inning gave the Atlanta Braves a 5-4 victory against the Pirates Tuesday night at Turner Field and electrified most of the 28,681 in attendance.

With runners on first and second and one out, Simmons launched a ball to the right-center field gap off Pirates reliever Mark Melancon, scoring Dan Uggla from second to give the Braves the victory.

It was the second walk-off loss this season for the Pirates and the first loss for Melancon, who entered the game having allowed only three earned runs.

Uggla started the 10th with a walk, and Melancon hit pinch-hitter Reed Johnson to put himself in the jam.

Andrew McCutchen preserved a tie score in the bottom of the ninth with a leaping catch at the wall in right-center. The ball off Freddie Freeman's bat likely would not have cleared the wall, but it might have scored the speedy Justin Upton from first

Next inning, the Braves scored anyway.

The Pirates blew a two-run lead in the sixth when Ryan Reid's second career outing didn't go nearly as well as his first. The rookie reliever allowed a two-run, tying home run to B.J. Upton with two outs in the sixth. Reid missed his spot on a 1-2 fastball by nearly a foot.

Instead of hitting Russell Martin's glove away, Reid's pitch sailed through the middle of the strike zone, and Upton punished him. Upton's homer, his second in the past three games and sixth this season, knotted the score, 4-4.

Reid, who did not allow a run to score Monday after entering the game to a bases-loaded jam, relieved Pirates starter Jeff Locke, who continued his strong campaign.

Pitching for the first time at Turner Field, the home of the team that drafted him, Locke allowed three earned runs over 52/3 innings, giving up six hits.

"He knows that he's capable," manager Clint Hurdle said before the game. "He feels he is capable to go out and pitch a good game any time he's given the ball where I don't think he was sure at first."

He struck out seven batters, one shy of his career high, and nearly earned the victory. Except the first Braves batter that didn't face Locke -- B. J. Upton -- tied the score four pitches after Locke left the game.

Locke, along with Charlie Morton and Gorkys Hernandez, joined the Pirates in 2009 when the team dealt Nate McLouth to the Braves.

Atlanta starter Mike Minor allowed four earned runs and four hits in six innings, striking out six batters and serving up two home runs.

Pedro Alvarez padded the Pirates' lead in the fourth with his team-leading 12th homer. His towering drive was an opposite-field blast that landed about 15 rows deep in left-center field to make it 4-2. Despite his .202 batting average, the worst among all Pirates position players, Alvarez leads the team with 31 RBIs.

But, after that home run, the offense went silent.

After cruising through the first two innings, Locke ran into problems in the third. Freeman helped the Braves (36-22) cut into the Pirates' lead in the third with an RBI double down the left-field line. Freeman's hit scored Simmons and Jason Heyward to trim the Pirates' lead to 3-2.

Freeman's RBI double snapped a scoreless inning streak for Locke that stretched 211/3 innings over his past five starts.

Locke used 32 pitches in the third after throwing 25 in the first and second combined. That pitch count proved costly in the sixth, when Locke reached No. 103 before being pulled as Upton strolled to the plate.

The Pirates (35-24) added to an early lead in the third, when McCutchen drove in his 29th and 30th runs with a two-out double down the left-field line. That scored Locke from third and Jordy Mercer, who doubled, from second and gave the Pirates a 3-0 advantage.

Gaby Sanchez narrowly missed his fifth home run of the season in the second inning. Sanchez crushed a 2-1 slider from Minor but pulled it just wide of the left-field foul pole.

Two pitches later, Sanchez wouldn't be denied. He smacked a 92 mph fastball several rows deep in left-center field to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead. Sanchez hits almost .150 points better against left-handed pitching than right-handed pitching.

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Michael Sanserino: msanserino@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1722 and Twitter @msanserino. First Published June 5, 2013 3:00 AM


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