Mercer salvages Pirates win against Rockies



Fireworks nights force post-game news conferences into manager Clint Hurdle's office rather than the conference room down the concourse. That meant that Saturday night, Hurdle's phone kept beeping in his meeting with the media.

"Sounds like there's some Pirate fans," he said.

A second consecutive comeback victory, this one a walk-off in extra innings, will generate some messages. Jordy Mercer's double in the 11th inning gave the Pirates a 3-2 win against the Colorado Rockies at PNC Park.

Neil Walker, who went 3 for 5, led off the 11th with a single. Starling Marte was not available after taking a pitch off the helmet Friday night, so Hurdle sent Chris Stewart, the backup catcher and final man on the bench, to bunt Walker over. Rockies reliever Chad Bettis intentionally walked Pedro Alvarez with first base open.

"I immediately knew what was going to happen," Mercer said. "Our whole dugout did, pretty much."

Mercer laid off a low slider for ball one. He pulled the second pitch, a fastball, into the gap in left-center field.

"In those situations you've just got to slow down," Mercer said. "It's so hard because everybody's amped up."

Mercer's walk-off followed seven innings of two-run ball from Charlie Morton, but both of those runs came on a Carlos Gonzalez home run that put the Rockies ahead. The Rockies needed three relievers to finish the eighth, in which the Pirates tied the score.

Pirates relievers Ernesto Frieri, Mark Melancon, Justin Wilson and Jared Hughes each pitched a scoreless inning and needed 33 combined pitches to retire 13 batters. Hughes earned the win and did so in style.

Hughes (5-2) hit Charlie Culberson to start the 11th. DJ LeMahieu bunted Culberson to second and pinch-hitter Drew Stubbs grounded to third. Alvarez dived and stopped the ball, but had no play, and the Rockies had runners on the corners.

Charlie Blackmon drove a hard liner back toward Hughes, but Hughes snagged it, doubled off Culberson at third and the inning was over.

"I did not see it," Hughes said. "I feel like it just went right into the glove."

The Rockies bullpen let the Pirates tie the score in the eighth. Left-hander Rex Brothers completed his task, retiring Gregory Polanco and exited with Colorado ahead, 2-1. In came Adam Ottavino, who contributed to the blown lead Friday night. He promptly walked Josh Harrison and Andrew McCutchen.

Russell Martin fell behind, 0-2, worked the count full and grounded to short. Harrison and McCutchen ran on the 3-2 pitch, ensuring Harrison reached third, and he made it to the bag in time to avoid the throw.

Walker singled to right, scoring the tying run. McCutchen tried to score from second, but a strong throw from Gonzalez nabbed him at the plate. A 32-second crew chief review confirmed that Rule 7.13, governing blocking the plate, was not violated.

"Incredible throw from Gonzalez [in] right field," Hurdle said. "Probably the only way you're going to get McCutchen is to get it there in the air."

Nolan Arenado doubled to right-center field to start the seventh, at which point the Rockies were scoreless. Morton threw four consecutive curveballs to Gonzalez and worked his way to a 2-2 count. Gonzalez fouled off a fastball. Morton threw another curveball, but left it up in the zone, and Gonzalez smoked it into the seats in right, giving the Rockies a 2-1 lead.

"Middle, hung it," Morton said. "Curveball's been there for me all year. Just didn't execute it."

The Pirates produced little against Rockies starter Brett Anderson, who allowed one run, on consecutive doubles from Walker and Gaby Sanchez in the fourth, but finished seven innings and struck out eight.

"Anderson had some good stuff, he was mixing well," Mercer said. "Honestly, I think whenever you see something different after him, you kind of get back to where you need to be. We did that. As soon as he came out of the game, we started having really good at-bats and putting pressure on them."

Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, their cleanup hitter and an NL MVP candidate, left the game in the fourth because of a thigh cramp.

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


First Published July 19, 2014 10:44 PM

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