After rain delayed the game’s start for over two hours, the Pirates appeared to be headed for still more hair-pulling frustration at the hands of a pitcher with a stratospheric ERA. In the end, though, they managed to overcome their bizarre struggles against bad pitchers and bad teams, and their own GM’s baffling trade deadline performance, for a 10-6 win over the Padres.
Ivan Nova pitched well for the first four innings, but he started off the fifth uncharacteristically with a walk. David Freese then threw away a grounder by Travis Wood, allowing the runner to come all the way around to score. One batter later, Carlos Asuaje hit a drive to center that, after review, was ruled a two-run HR, just Asuaje’s second HR of the year, to make it 3-0.
Meanwhile Wood, doing his best Jamie Moyer imitation, lobbed his way through the Pirates’ lineup, allowing just an infield hit to Josh Harrison over the first four innings. The Pirates finally showed some semblance of life in the fifth, but only with some help. With runners at the corners and no out, catcher Austin Hedges threw a pop fly into right field on Ivan Nova’s bunt attempt, letting a run score. Nova tried to jog over to second on the play and was thrown out easily. Harrison plated a second run with a two out single up the middle.
Nova immediately gave one of those runs back when Yangervis Solarte led off the sixth with a HR that also required review. The Pirates, though, came back in the bottom half. Freese sort-of atoned for his error by getting the Bucs back to within one by going oppo for his eighth HR. A bloop hit by Jose Osuna than chased Wood. Two outs later, Jordy Mercer reached on an infield hit and Adam Frazier hit for Nova. The Padres countered with a lefty, but Frazier lined a single to left to bring in Osuna.
For the seventh, the Pirates went with their big trade deadline acquisition, Joaquin Benoit, because a rookie like Dovydas Neverauskas might wilt under pressure. Benoit competed by serving up a gopher ball to the second batter he faced for the second time in a row. He then loaded the bases with two outs on two walks and a single, and had to be replaced by A.J. Schugel. He walked in a run before getting out of the inning, making it 6-4.
The Pirates battled back again in the bottom half, sending eleven men to the plate. A lot of the damage came against a very tough reliever in Kirby Yates. With one out, Andrew McCutchen singled, Freese doubled, and the much-maligned Gregory Polanco, batting for Schugel, launched his tenth HR over the right field stands to drive in everybody and give the Pirates their first lead. Three walks, a hit and a sacrifice fly by Frazier brought in one run and left the bases loaded with two outs. Harrison, who’d opened the inning by striking out, then came through again with a two-run single. That made it six runs and a 10-6 lead.
Juan Nicasio had a slightly shaky eighth inning and Clint Hurdle went with Felipe Rivero in the ninth. Neither allowed a run. The Pirates will now have two chances to avoid their fourth straight series loss to a weak team.