BALTIMORE – The Pirates struggles continued into the wee hours Friday.
Matt Wieters hit a walk-off home run in the 10th inning off Stolmy Pimentel early Friday to give the Orioles a 6-5 victory over the Pirates, completing a sweep of a long doubleheader that began Thursday afternoon.
The club stranded 15 runners in Game 2 after stranding 13 in Game 1's 5-1 loss.
The loss drops the Pirates to 10-18 and knocking on the door of the National League Central cellar.
The hits came this time, but not with runners in scoring position.
“They’re out there. We keep fighting and fighting,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We put ourselves in scoring position and we haven’t been able to cash in the way we need to but we keep showing up. The bats were better throughout the series. We had men on base throughout. Still looking for that big hit.”
Brandon Cumpton strengthened his case to stay in the starting rotation for the Pirates, throwing 5⅔ scoreless innings in the second game before the Orioles plated four with two outs in the sixth.
The rally started when Adam Jones hit a deep fly ball to right field that a diving Travis Snider couldn’t snag. That scored a run, and so did a single by Wieters.
Two more runs scored when J.J. Hardy doubled off reliever Bryan Morris to make it 4-4.
“Really just left a couple heaters up. Couldn’t finish that inning,” Cumpton said. “I left some pitches up, and those guys put some good swings on and made me pay. …He smoked it. He did everything in his will to try and make the play. I tip my cap to him for laying out for it. They hit 'em hard.”
Starling Marte drove in a seventh-inning run to put the Pirates ahead again, 5-4, but Nick Markakis homered off of Morris in the seventh to tie it again at 5.
Gaby Sanchez had four hits in the game, including an RBI triple.
“If we score five (runs) in nine (innings) most games I feel like we’re going to win here. But we faced some tough pitching today. Their relievers did a good job pounding the zone. It’s a weird little thing going on right now and hopefully we can snap out of it,” said first baseman Ike Davis. “It’s been rough. But tomorrow’s a new day. Hopefully we get some sleep and come out swinging and regroup a little bit.”
In the first game, Charlie Morton took the mound for a well-rested Pirates team that had not played since Sunday due to an off day and two rainouts.
Morton pitched well but was not the same after a 21-minute rain delay as the Orioles erased a 1-0 deficit with a three-run fifth inning en route to their 5-1 victory.
The Pirates offense was little help, stranding 13 runners. They managed one hit with a runner in scoring position, a two-out RBI single by Pedro Alvarez after a leadoff triple by Jose Tabata.
“(Charlie) really was challenged to get the ball down with any consistency after that (delay),” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He waited like a normal inning. He played catch to get extended and keep warm.”
Morton gave up a leadoff single to Delmon Young to open the fifth and walked Steve Clevenger before J.J. Hardy reached on a throwing error by Alvarez to load the bases with no outs.
Steve Pearce hit an RBI single. Then Ryan Flaherty – a college teammate and friend of Alvarez – snuck an RBI double past Alvarez to make it 3-1 on a pitch Morton said had to be near his ankles.
“I don’t know,” Morton said. “I didn’t execute and Bud (Norris) went through the same rain delay. I don’t really know. I just didn’t execute. I kept grooving fastballs to Pearce. He kept putting a good swing on it. That groundball to Flaherty to left field, the pitch was like a foot and a half off the plate at his ankles.”
Morton finally got out of the inning, giving up two earned runs, three total.
He finished his night going 5⅓, giving up seven hits, four runs (two earned), while walking two and striking out four.
Pearce drove in a fourth run in the sixth, and Markakis homered off of reliever Jeanmar Gomez in the seventh inning.
Jenn Menendez: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @JennMenendez First Published May 1, 2014 7:45 PM