Polanco HR drives Pirates to 5-2 victory



Gregory Polanco worked a full count against New York Mets starter Daisuke Matsuzaka in the fifth inning Thursday night with two on base and one out.

Then with one beautiful and fluid swing, Polanco clobbered a slider into the twilight.

It soared up and over the Clemente Wall, to the top rows of the right-field bleachers, to mark his first home run at PNC Park and lead the Pirates to a 5-2 win.

Estimated distance: 418 feet.

"He's a talented young man. I'm humbled to have him on the club, have the opportunity to write his name in the lineup and watch him grow and play and gain experience each and every day with a group of men out there helping him along the way," manager Clint Hurdle said. "It's a good time for him to be included on our club and he's obviously making a difference since he's been up here."

The Pirates plated their first run on a groundout by Polanco in the third inning, and second run just before an inning-ending rundown in the fourth.

They went ahead for good with Polanco's three-run home run and climbed above .500 for just the second time since April 15, improving to 40-39.

The at-bat illustrated the patience Polanco has exuded at the plate since being promoted to the major leagues June 10.

He took a ball to open the at-bat, fell behind 1-2 after looking at a couple of fastballs, fouled off a third, then took a slider and 2-seam fastball to work the count full. He fouled off one more fastball, then had his pitch, right over the middle of the plate.

"I just fight, fight, fight, swing, swing and tried to make contact," Polanco said. "And I hit it."

He knew it was gone immediately.

About 36,647 fans were on hand to watch it go.

"He has very good plate discipline for a young player," Hurdle said. "It's been showing up. He's been getting challenged with much more off-speed stuff in the past week. ... He was able to pick up on that, put a good swing on a breaking ball up and over the plate and rode it out of here big time."

Vance Worley, who made his third start for the Pirates, went seven innings. He gave up seven hits, one earned run on a home run, walked two and struck out three. He hit one batter.

"Some of the off-speed cutters that I was throwing weren't cutting," Worley said. "They were just kind of spinning and those were the base hits for the most part. I just had to keep throwing it and believing in it and going back to my sinker and hoping they put the ball in play, but to somebody."

Worley put two runners on in the second, but was aided when Josh Harrison threw out Bobby Abreu at home on a single by Ruben Tejada.

The throw was perfectly on line to catcher Russell Martin, who made the tag so decisively the play wasn't even challenged.

The Pirates again got the leadoff batter on in the second, but Ike Davis hit into a double play and Pedro Alvarez struck out.

They took their first lead in the third inning when Polanco drove in Jordy Mercer on a groundout to second base.

Mercer walked to lead off the inning, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Worley and moved to third on a wild pitch.

Lucas Duda tied it, 1-1, when he homered on a 1-2 fastball just inside the left-field foul pole in the fourth. Worley put two more runners on with a walk and hit batter, but got out of the jam.

The Pirates scored again when Davis got caught in a rundown in the fourth inning trying to steal second.

He stalled the Mets infield just long enough for McCutchen to blaze across the plate from third and put the Pirates ahead, 2-1.

Matsuzaka finished at six innings giving up five hits, five runs (all earned), four walks and a wild pitch. He struck out four.

Tony Watson gave up a run on a couple of doubles to Daniel Murphy and David Wright in the eighth, which was the first earned run he surrendered since April 22.

Watson had gone 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA in his past 26 appearances. After the run, Watson recovered to get the next three batters with a strikeout, groundout and strikeout.

 


Jenn Menendez: jmenendez@post-gazette.com and Twitter @JennMenendez. First Published June 26, 2014 10:27 PM

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