Pirates get late-inning herocis once again
PITTSBURGH – Neil Walker hit a tiebreaking, two-run double in the eighth inning, capping a comeback from a five-run deficit to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates over the Toronto Blue Jays 8-6 Saturday night.
A night after wasting a 5-3, ninth-inning lead in a 6-5 loss, Toronto led 5-0 in the fourth and 6-2 in the seventh
Aaron Loup relieved R.A. Dickey after Clint Barmes’ leadoff double in the seventh, and the Pirates tied the score on Josh Harrison’s RBI double, Pedro Alvarez’s run-scoring groundout and pinch-hitter Jordy Mercer’s two-run double.
One inning later, Ike Davis reached on a one-out infield single against Todd Redmond (0-3), Harrison singled and Walker hit a drive off the top of the center-field wall. The Pirates could have boosted their lead, but Starling Marte lined out to first against Chad Jenkins with the bases loaded.
Bryan Morris (3-0) pitched a perfect eighth, and Mark Melancon earned his first save of the season in place of injured closer Jason Grilli, retiring Colby Ramus on a game-ending groundout with two on.
Pittsburgh, which overcame four errors, won consecutive games for the first time since beating St. Louis and the Chicago Cubs on April 6 and 8.
Toronto’s Jose Bautista hit his ninth homer of the year, extended his hitting streak to a career-high 13 games. He set a Blue Jays record by reaching base in a 30th consecutive game.
Dickey allowed three runs, five hits and four walks, lowering his ERA to 5.01. Pirates starter Francisco Liriano gave up five runs – four earned – six hits and three walks in 3 2-3 innings, the second straight start he faled to reach the fourth.
Toronto built its early lead on Jose Reyes’ RBI double in the third and a four-run fourth that included Brett Lawrie’s run-scoring double off Marte in left, Rasmus’ RBI single, Steve Tolleson’s run-scoring, double-play grounder and a bases-loaded walk to Reyes.
Pittsburgh’s comeback began in the fourth when Dickey threw a run-scoring wild pitch, and Barmes hit an RBI groundout.
Game notes: The Blue Jays removed RHP Sergio Santos from his role as interim closer after he blew three of his past four save opportunities. Manager John Gibbons said Toronto will use a closer-by-committee approach until closer Casey Janssen (oblique) returns from the DL. … After optioning RHP Brandon Cumpton to the minor leagues Saturday, the Pirates have an open spot in their rotation Monday when they start a three-game set against San Francisco. LHP Wandy Rodriguez (right knee) could return from the DL. … Toronto RHP Dustin McGowan (1-1, 5.87) is scheduled to pitch today against Pittsburgh RHP Edinson Volquez (1-2, 3.21).