The Pirates took advantage of some shoddy Twins' defense and survived some misplays of their own to beat Minnesota, 10-4, and sweep a two-game series on the road. They also survived a shaky start by Franscisco Liriano, who doesn't seem to like pitching against his old team, although this game was a big improvement over his two-inning outing at PNC Park earlier this year.
The Pirates opened the scoring when Jung-Ho Kang, who could probably hit line drives with a necktie right now, lined his seventh HR into the seats in left in the 2nd inning. The Twins quickly tied the game, though, when Eddie Rosario tripled on a ball deflected by Andrew McCutchen, then scored on a groundout. The bad guys went up, 3-1, in the 3rd when a double, a single, an error by Starling Marte and another single brought in two.
Liriano battled on, allowing an uncharacteristic ten hits in five and two-thirds innings. He didn't walk anybody, though, and fanned four. He held on long enough for the Pirates' offense and the Twins' defense to turn the game around. First, Andrew McCutchen tied the game with his 14th HR, a two-run drive into the left field seats in the 5th.
The Pirates then scored five in the 6th, just in time to get Liriano his seventh win against six losses. A Francisco Cervelli double put runners on second and third, setting up a wild pitch and a Marte sacrifice fly to bring in a pair. McCutchen then got a Little League HR when, with two runners on, he dumped a single into right, only to have Rosario overrun the ball, letting two runs score. (McCutchen got an RBI, giving him three on the day.) McCutchen ended up at third, but he scored when the Twins not only threw the ball away, but interfered with McCutchen as he started for home, leading the umpires to award him the base.
Liriano lasted only two more outs, but Antonio Bastardo struck out Shane Robinson to end the 6th with two runners on. Bastardo got himself into trouble in the 7th, loading the bases with one out on two walks and an error of his own. Jared Hughes put an end to that, getting a strikeout and ground out to end the threat. Arquimedes Caminero managed a scoreless 8th, Pedro Alvarez doubled in two in the 9th, and Deolis Guerra finished the game, allowing a run in the bottom of the 9th. Kang finished 3-5, while McCutchen, Neil Walker, Cervelli and, happily, Aramis Ramirez all had two hits. Ramirez' first hit in his return to the Pirates was a double in the 5th.
The Pirates have now returned to 18 games over .500 and evened their record at 6-6 since the All-Star break. The one big negative was the loss of Gregory Polanco, who left the game with the dreaded "discomfort" in his left knee. He's had the knee wrapped for some time and aggravated it hitting the first base bag. Hopefully, it's only a minor issue. The Bucs move on to Cincinnati, which Johnny Cueto no longer calls home.