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Pirates drop Seattle in 9th, 4-2

Neil Walker and Jordy Mercer played the key offensive roles and Jeanmar Gomez threw five strong innings in his return from the DL as the Bucs outlasted King Feilx

Otto Greule Jr

It seemed like one of the biggest mismatches of the year. Not only did the Pirates send Jeanmar Gomez, who was cut loose for a non-prospect by the pitching-poor Cleveland Indians, against Mariner ace Felix Hernandez, but Gomez was making his first appearance since going on the disabled list over three weeks ago. But just the same, the Bucs extended their win streak to six -- all of it on the road -- and moved to 18 games over .500.

Hernandez generally was his usual dominant self, fanning 11 in seven innings. In the 4th, though, with Garrett Jones on via a walk, Neil Walker drove his sixth HR over the wall in right-center. Other than a one-out double by Starling Marte in the 5th, the Pirates had no other threats against Hernandez.

Seattle got one run back in the bottom of the 4th without benefit of a hit. Raul Ibanez struck out on a wild pitch, went to third on an error by Jordy Mercer, and scored on a sac fly. Ibanez then tied the game in the 6th with a HR off Justin Wilson.

Vin Mazzaro held the fort with two scoreless innings, until the Pirates got back on the board in the 9th. Pedro Alvarez singled, Walker bunted him to second (feel free to debate the bunt), and after a groundout and an intentional walk to Travis Snider by the right-handed reliever, Mercer lined a single to center. That scored Alvarez and the throw home left runners on second and third. Starling Marte followed by striking out on a curve that escaped the catcher, allowing Marte to reach first and Snider to score.

Clint Hurdle went with Mark Melancon in the save situation. The official explanation was that Jason Grilli threw a lot of pitches in his rough inning on Sunday and needed the rest. Whether that's something to be concerned about is hard to say, but at the least it shows the Pirates aren't going to Grady Little their season by mindlessly running their closer out there when he needs a little down time. Melancon allowed two singles but got the side out.

Gomez was long gone by then, departing after throwing 81 pitches in five innings. That's probably the most that could have been expected of him, anyway, as was his performance. He allowed three singles, walked two and fanned five. If you'd told me before the season that the Pirates would win a game started by Gomez against Felix Hernandez, I'd have said that stuff is supposed to be for medicinal use only.