Another day without J-Hay, another game of no more than two runs scored. Even the Penguins, playing acrossed the parking lot, were able to score six goals in the last 26 minutes of their game. But not so for the punchless Pirates.
After managing a single hit while striking out six times in the first four innings against Phillies starter Nick Pivetta, the Pirates jumped ahead 2-0 in the fifth when Jordy Mercer laced a double down the left field line and Elias Diaz, the owner of the only Pittsburgh hit coming into the frame, lashed a two-run shot deep into the left field seats.
Trevor Williams wasn’t sharp, but he too only allowed a pair of runs. Immediately after the Pirates had taken a lead, light hitting catcher Andrew Knapp walked with one out in the bottom of the fifth and came all the way around to score on pitcher Pivetta’s double that dropped into the right field corner. It turned out to be the only hit that Williams would allow in six innings of work, but after a wild pitch and another walk, Pivetta scored to tie the game on a Cesar Hernandez sacrifice fly.
And there the score stayed, knotted at two, for the next five innings, as each manager sent out a procession of relievers. Things had looked hopeful for the Pirates in the ninth as Starling Marte reached on an error and stole second with no one out (snapping Victor Arano’s consecutive batters retired streak) but Arano quickly started another stream and Marte was stranded. With one out in the tenth Josh Bell stepped in as a pinch-hitter and smoked a triple into the right fielder corner, but Sean Rodriguez struck out and Marte flew out to end another threat.
Meanwhile in the Phillies’ eighth George Kontos allowed a pair of singles with registering a strikeout, but got Pedro Florimon to end the inning.
In the tenth Philadelphia put two runners on with one out on a bunt single and a throwing error by pitcher Kyle Crick on an easy grounder, but he struck out Rhys Hoskins swinging and Maikel Franco to ground out to keep the Pirates’ chances alive.
But once again in the eleventh having runners at first and third wasn’t enough for the Pirates. In the bottom of the inning Richard Rodriguez took the mound for the Bucs and with one out Knapp blasted a ball deep to left which eluded a leaping Corey Dickerson and kicked halfway back to the infield, where Sean Rodriguez, then playing shortstop, picked it up as the batter moved into third base with a triple and respresenting the winning run. Rodriguez, who had six strikeouts against these Phils on Thursday, quickly got in front of Aaron Altherr with a one ball/two strike count, but Altherr fouled one off before smacking a sharp grounder through the drawn-in infield, driving in Knapp and ending the game and the series sweep.
The Pirates mercifully have a day off on Monday to lick their wounds.