In a game of errors, fielding miscues and a baserunning mistake, the Pirates bench picked up the slack Friday night at PNC Park.
Taking advantage of the Colorado Rockies bullpen, the Pirates scored two runs in the eighth inning to secure a 4-2 win. They committed three errors, missed two other outs on defense and ran through a stop sign on the bases. Neither of the Rockies’ two runs was earned, and the defense forced Francisco Liriano and Pirates relievers to work harder than they needed to. Two pinch-hitters, Travis Snider and Josh Harrison, provided the final two runs.
Rockies right-hander Matt Belisle entered in the eighth with the score tied at 2-2. Neil Walker promptly roped a single.
Walker ran on a pitch to Gaby Sanchez, and after pausing to make sure Sanchez’s line-drive single to center wasn’t caught, Walker reached third. Snider drove Walker home with a double to right field that bounced past a diving Carlos Gonzalez.
“Man on third, less than two [outs], anything to score a run,” Snider said. “I was a little late on the fastball early on in the count, caught a breaking ball over the plate and put a pretty good swing on it.”
Harrison, who entered the game in the seventh, extended the lead to 4-2 with a sacrifice fly to center.
The Pirates tied the score in the seventh. Jordy Mercer singled off left-hander Rex Brothers with one out and took second on a wild pitch. Nolan Arenado threw high on Harrison’s grounder to third, putting runners on first and second. Gregory Polanco singled to load the bases, and Rockies manager Walt Weiss brought in right-hander Adam Ottavino to face Starling Marte.
Ottavino had Marte 0-2 before hitting him in the head with a 93 mph fastball, knocking Marte’s helmet off and knocking him to the ground. Assistant athletic trainer Ben Potenziano examined Marte, who stayed down for a few minutes, but he eventually took his base. The bats-man forced home a run and tied the score at 2-2.
Marte took the field for the eighth, but Snider replaced him in the ninth. Marte said he was OK after the game but declined further comment.
“I think we were able to dodge a bullet there,” said manager Clint Hurdle, who said the removal was precautionary.
Liriano allowed one unearned run in five innings, holding the Rockies to three hits. He walked three, two of them in a 27-pitch first inning, and struck out eight.
“Sometimes I get too excited and I try to overthrow everything,” Liriano said. “My slider, my changeup, everything. I tried to calm down a little bit but sometimes you know what you’re doing wrong but you can’t help it.”
Tony Watson earned the win in relief and Mark Melancon saved his 17th game.
Liriano loaded the bases with two walks and a single in the first but escaped. The Rockies loaded the bases again in the second, but the Pirates’ defense, not Liriano, bore most of the responsibility. Charlie Culberson blooped a one-out single into shallow left field. Mercer bobbled DJ LeMahieu’s grounder. Jorge De La Rosa bunted down the third-base line. After initially pausing, Alvarez fielded the ball bare-handed but did not make a throw.
Dickerson hit what could have been an inning-ending double play, but Mercer again booted the ball and only recorded one out.
In innings two through five, Liriano struck out seven and walked one. He batted in the fifth at 95 pitches and grounded out, but Hurdle replaced him with Jared Hughes in the sixth after the Pirates tied the score, 1-1.
“If we were down one, he was going to go back out,” Hurdle said. “We still felt he had 15 pitches or so to work with.”
Alvarez committed yet another throwing error, his major league-leading 21st, that led to a run in the sixth. With two outs, he made a nice snag on Wilin Rosario’s grounder but threw the ball high and wide of first. Culberson and LeMahieu each singled to right field and LeMahieu’s hit scored Rosario from second to put the Rockies ahead, 2-1.
“Every time I get to have the opportunity to go out there, I want the ball hit to me,” Alvarez said. “I’m going out there with the intention of always completing the play.”
First Published July 18, 2014 11:07 PM