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Pirates again fall victim to 3-run homer, lose in 12th

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Pittsburgh Pirates v Boston Red Sox Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

A pitcher’s duel between Jameson Taillon and Chris Sale gave way to an extra-inning marathon and finally a 3-0 Pirates loss as Sandy Leon hit a game-winning three-run shot off Antonio Bastardo in the 12th inning.

Taillon held a tough Red Sox lineup for seven innings. It took some good fortune to pull off — he had two Mitch Moreland fly balls go deep only to die in the outfield on a cold night, and he got good defensive performances from Andrew McCutchen (who gunned down Leon at the plate on a single by Dustin Pedroia in the third — welcome to right field, Cutch) and David Freese. Overall, though, Taillon looked great in his 2017 debut, getting a bunch of ground balls and a bunch of sinking action on his pitches.

From there, Taillon gave way to a bunch of Pirates relievers, who mostly also looked fine or outright terrific — Daniel Hudson pitched a scoreless eighth, and Felipe Rivero was downright terrifying in the ninth. Tony Watson got into a bit of trouble in the 10th, but got a bases-loaded grounder when he needed it. And Juan Nicasio struck out two of the three batters he faced in the 11th.

Unfortunately, the Pirates’ offense was almost invisible all night, picking up just five singles and a walk over 12 innings. When you face Chris Sale, bad things happen, but the Bucs couldn’t get anything going against the Red Sox’ bullpen, either. (Some of the Pirates’ offensive troubles tonight were arguably self-inflicted — I know it was a 0-0 game, but why was Starling Marte allowed to pop up a bunt with one on and no outs in the ninth?) Something had to give, and as the Bucs went through most of their better relievers, it seemed increasingly likely it would be their bullpen.

Sure enough, Antonio Bastardo entered in the bottom of the 12th and walked Jackie Bradley and Pablo Sandoval, then gave up the shot to Leon on a center-cut fastball. Once again, the Pirates fell victim to a three-run homer, and once again, they lost.