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Pirates' huge comeback rescues Phil Irwin's 1st start as Bucs win 10-7

Justin K. Aller

Phil Irwin's big-league career got off to a rough start, but the Pirates came back to beat the Reds 10-7 Sunday afternoon.

Irwin allowed the first four batters he faced to reach base, leading to a two-run first inning. He also allowed two runs in the second on a double by Shin-Soo Choo that Starling Marte misplayed. Irwin calmed down after that, lasting 4.2 innings while striking out four and walking four. He gave up a fifth run in the fifth on a walk and a steal by Joey Votto and a single by Brandon Phillips.

... And really, that should have been it. The score remained at 5-0 until the seventh. But then the Pirates finally came to life. Michael McKenry homered to center leading off the inning, and it looked like that would be all the Bucs would get, as John McDonald and Jose Tabata made outs. But the Pirates put together a string of two-out hits. Starling Marte singled, and then Travis Snider belted a fly ball that nearly cleared the Clemente Wall but ended up a double. Then Andrew McCutchen doubled and Gaby Sanchez singled, and the score was 5-4.

The Reds scored one in the top of the eighth, but the Pirates' offense wasn't through, blowing the game open with six runs in the bottom of the inning. McKenry hit another home run, a two-run shot. (Will we soon be calling for McKenry to start over Russell Martin, the way we did last year with McKenry and Rod Barajas? Probably not, but it's great that McKenry still has the ability to make us wonder.) Then Tabata walked, and Marte homered to bring him in. Then Jonathan Sanchez pinch-hit (!) and walked (!!), and McCutchen followed with a single, and Gaby Sanchez hit a sacrifice fly to bring home Jonathan Sanchez. (It's too bad Tony Sanchez wasn't around to pinch-run for McCutchen there. You've got to get them all involved.) Then Neil Walker chipped in, bringing home McCutchen with a single.

Mark Melancon pitched the ninth and allowed a solo shot to Votto, but had no trouble after that, striking out two batters.