Pittsburgh Pirates Ride Walk-off Wins to Series Victories over Nationals, Astros
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The Pirates' offense looked like they were going to waste another spectacular start by starter A.J. Burnett, trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth. Neil Walker’s second double of the game put the potential tying run 90 feet away in Jose Tabata.
With a runner on third and less than two outs, it was anything but guaranteed that Pittsburgh would deliver the tying run, but they did. Third basemen Pedro Alvarez tied the game up with a sacrifice fly.
Pittsburgh gave the remaining fans at the game a nice Mother’s Day treat after their bullpen pitched three scoreless innings. With two men out and no one on, shortstop Clint Barmes hit a blooper for a double over the third basemen’s head. On the very next pitch, utility infielder Josh Harrison would send the Astros packing with a walk-off line drive single to left field.
The walk-off win gave the Pirates a 2-1 series victory over Houston, and their second series victory of the week.
The Pirates began the week in the same fashion they closed it out: with a walk-off win. Pittsburgh hosted the Washington Nationals for a three-game series that started on Tuesday, May 8.
Burnett was also the starter in that game, keeping the Pirates all the way in it until the last inning. Burnett struck out a season-high ten hitters and allowed two runs. After falling behind 2-0, Pittsburgh quickly tied it up with two solo home runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Andrew McCutchen led off the frame with his first home run of the season. After two quick outs, Garret Jones followed with a towering shot into the right field seats to tie it up.
The game remained scoreless heading into the bottom of the eighth, where the Pirates made their move. After a leadoff walk to pinch-hitter Nate McLouth, Jose Tabata reached base on an error by the shortstop Ian Desmond, who was trying to cover second base with the hit-and-run call on. With runners on the corners and no outs, Neil Walker gave the Pirates their first lead of the game, on a sacrifice fly.
With a 3-2 lead entering the ninth, the win was looking secured with closer Joel Hanrahan coming in. The Nationals had other plans. With the meat of their order coming up, they found a way to retake the lead. After a leadoff single by third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who was just reactivated from the disabled list before the game, former Bucco Adam Laroche belted a two-run home run to center field.
As soon as he made contact, it seemed like half the stadium left before the ball did. With the fans disgusted with what looked to be another tough loss, the offense made sure they would give the remaining fans a night to remember.
Casey McGehee led off the ninth with a fly out to right field. With one out, Alex Presley stepped up to the plate and delivered a pinch-hit single. Manager Clint Hurdle called upon another pinch-hitter, Yamaico Navarro, to replace Barmes. Navarro quickly fell behind 0-2, but then things got interesting. Nationals closer Henry Rodriquez threw consecutive wild pitches, allowing Presley to scamper from first to third. Navarro would then strike out, leaving the fate of the Pirates on the shoulders of Rod Barajas.
With a runner on third and two outs, Barajas wasted no time with Rodriquez. On the first pitch of the at-bat, Barajas took Rodriquez’s offering over the left field wall for a walk-off two-run home run. It was Barajas's first of the year.
With momentum on their side, Pittsburgh took game two of the series, 4-2, giving them the series win no matter the outcome on Thursday.
It was a good thing they were able to take the first two games with Washington sending out their star pitcher Stephen Strasburg on Thursday. The last time Strasburg had faced Pittsburgh was his major league debut, where he struck out 14 batters.
Pittsburgh got a dose of the same medicine, with Strasburg striking out 13 batters, on their way to a 4-2 victory.
It was also the first time Pittsburgh had the opportunity to witness 19-year-old phenom Bryce Harper in person. Harper struggled throughout the three-game series, going 2-12 with two runs scored.
Andrew McCutchen had a standout week with three home runs and two four-hit games.
After finishing off a nine game home stand, Pittsburgh will begin their seven-game road trip in Miami on Monday. It will be the Pirates first trip to Miami’s new ballpark.
Brad Lincoln (2-0, 0.63) will get the spot start in place of Erik Bedard, who left Wednesday’s game with back spasms. Bedard’s start will be pushed back to Wednesday in Washington. Lincoln will face Anibal Sanchez (2-0, 2.01). The first pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m.
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