Pirates hang on for 6-5 win against Tampa Bay Rays



ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Pirates rode a familiar combination to their fourth consecutive win.

Their starter provided them with another long, bullpen-saving outing. They assembled a multiple-run inning early. Those ingredients also worked Monday, and Tuesday they gave the Pirates a 6-5 win against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field, sealing a series victory.

Jeff Locke (1-1) allowed three runs in 71/3 innings, although two of them came in the eighth before he turned the game over to a shaky bullpen.

"He used his breaking ball early in counts to get ahead," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He just added and subtracted and controlled bat speed for the most part of the outing."

Locke's outing followed Edinson Volquez's eight-inning start Monday night.

He allowed his first run when Gregory Polanco lost Logan Forsythe's two-out fly ball in the fifth. The ball dropped for a triple, and Jose Molina's double scored Forsythe.

Locke sandwiched that inning with effective pitching before and after until the eighth. Brandon Guyer doubled and Evan Longoria hit a two-run homer, which drove Locke from the game. Locke walked two batters, and even that doubled the total from his previous three starts.

"One change I tried to make from last year to this year was just try to get ahead more, not to nibble, not to nibble so much. Put them behind and try to put myself in the driver's seat," said Locke.

Mark Melancon allowed two runs on three hits in the ninth but still earned the save.

Starling Marte left the game in the fifth because of concussion-like symptoms. He reached on a bizarre play: He popped out softly to first base, but Polanco, who was on first, was ruled out for interfering with James Loney as Loney tried to make the catch. By rule, Marte was awarded first.

He tried to steal second and was thrown out. As he slid, his head collided with Rays second baseman Sean Rodriguez's knee. He stayed on the ground near the bag as athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk examined him before he was helped off the field. Travis Snider replaced him in left field. Hurdle said after the game that Martin went to the hospital for a CT scan.

Rays starter Chris Archer had allowed four earned runs in his previous 402/3 innings, a span of seven starts, before Tuesday. The Pirates scratched three runs off him in the third, five total -- four earned -- in seven innings.

"I think we just tried to stay selectively aggressive in the zone," Hurdle said. "When we got pitches to hit, we were able to hit them and move, do some things on the bases."

Polanco manufactured a run in the first. He walked, stole second and went to third when Molina's throw bounced into the outfield and scored on Andrew McCutchen's groundout.

Eight Pirates went to the plate in the third, when they pushed across three runs to extend their lead to 4-0. Pedro Alvarez walked to start the inning. Jordy Mercer bounced a high chopper that resulted in an infield single. Polanco's sacrifice bunt moved the runners into scoring position.

Marte and McCutchen hit RBI singles and Neil Walker scored a run on a sacrifice fly.

The Pirates added a run in the sixth with help from Ike Davis' two-out double. Josh Harrison singled to left. Davis, who isn't exactly fleet of foot, went home, but Guyer's throw was well off line. Davis' run extended the Pirates' lead to 5-1. Martin homered off reliever Brad Boxberger in the eighth, which became important when Melancon allowed the Rays to close the gap in the ninth.

"Big swing of the bat from Ike and then J-Hay to add a run, and then obviously Russ being able to ride one out of here late also helped," Hurdle said.


Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and on Twitter @BrinkPG.

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