Walker homers in 11th to help Bucs win
DETROIT – Neil Walker ended a lengthy pitching duel with a home run in the 11th inning, lifting the Pittsburgh Pirates over the Detroit Tigers 1-0 on Tuesday night.
The game was scoreless until Walker – the brother-in-law of Tigers center fielder Don Kelly – homered off Jose Ortega (0-2) with one out in the top of the 11th. Former Tigers reliever Jason Grilli pitched the bottom half for his 21st save in as many tries, striking out Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in succession.
Mark Melanson (1-0) picked up the win with a scoreless 10th inning for Pittsburgh.
Pirates starter Jeanmar Gomez and his Tigers counterpart Rick Porcello were dominant, putting up one of the best outings of their respective careers.
Gomez pitched seven scoreless innings before giving way to the bullpen. The seven innings matched a career best, originally set in his debut against Detroit on July 18, 2010.
Porcello also matched a career best with eight innings of work and struck out a career-high 11 batters. Porcello isn’t the first Tigers pitcher to dominate Pittsburgh at Comerica Park. Last season, Justin Verlander took a no-hitter into the ninth against the Pirates, two days before Max Scherzer struck out 15 batters in a 4-3 victory.
Porcello and Gomez dominated the early stages of the game. Gomez was especially efficient, needing only 73 pitches to get through his seven innings. Porcello, on the other hand, threw 99 pitches because of the extra inning and the large number of deep counts.
Gomez got some help from center fielder Andrew McCutchen, who made a running catch to rob Andy Dirks of extra bases in the third inning and another to steal a double from Fielder in the seventh.
Pedro Alvarez led off the eighth with a single and took second when Travis Snider walked – the first time either team had put a runner into scoring position – but Porcello got Clint Barmes to ground into an inning-ending double play.
In the bottom of the inning, Omar Infante got to second on a one-out throwing error by Barmes at shortstop. Reliever Justin Wilson retired pinch-hitter Brayan Pena on a ground ball, and struck out Dirks.
Neil Walker singled off Joaquin Benoit in the ninth, stole second and took third on Pena’s throwing error, but Garrett Jones flew out to end the threat. Victor Martinez almost ended the deadlock in the bottom of the ninth, but Starling Marte made a running catch of his liner at the fence in left.
Both teams put runners into scoring position in the 10th, but couldn’t get a run across.
Game notes: The start of the game was delayed 1:13 by rain. … The Pirates placed Jose Contreras (low back inflammation) on the 15-day disabled list and recalled reliever Bryan Morris from Triple-A Indianapolis. … The Tigers have struck out 10 or more batters 28 times – the second-highest total in franchise history behind last season’s 50. Detroit is currently on pace for 91 double-digit games. … Porcello pitched into the ninth on July 21, 2012 against the White Sox, but didn’t record an out.