34,720 fans, the largest crowd of the young season, stood for nearly two minutes in the first inning to honor the first appearance of former favorite Andrew McCutchen back in Pittsburgh.
McCutchen was called out on strikes on a 3-2 pitch, and most everything went down hill for the Giants from there as the Pirates blasted four home runs among 15 hits as the Pirates ran away with an 11-2 victory.
After Jameson Taillon collected a pair of K’s in the first, the Pirates quickly jumped out to a 2-0 lead when Gregory Polanco doubled into the right field corner and Starling Marte followed with a homer to left that just evaded the reach of Gregor Blanco.
After throwing three scoreless innings, Taillon was lifted with what was described as a lacerated finger, certain to cause much discomfort. Steven Brault entered and quickly coughed up the lead, allowing a pair of runs on a bases loaded single to Austin Jackson.
The Bucs jumped back into the lead in the bottom of the fourth when Sean Rodriguez lined a single to right then raced around the bases on Jordy Mercer’s triple into the North Side Notch. Brault was then due to bat, but manager Clint Hurdle sent Jose Osuna up to pinch hit, who proceeded to blast a 2-2 pitch deep into the left field seats, giving the Pirates a 5-2 lead that they’d never relinquish.
Five more relievers would follow Brault, all tossing one inning each, without allowing any runs. Meanwhile the Bucs bats continued to tee off on Giants pitching. With two outs in the sixth, pinch-hitter Colin Moran drove in Mercer with a line drive double off the center field wall, but a batter later Moran was thrown out at home on Max Moroff’s single. They added two in the seventh on Marte’s single and Josh Bell’s homer that traveled 432 feet into the bushes beyond the center field wall, and then capped it off in the eighth when another former Pirate Tony Watson served up Moroff’s three-run homer to right center, following a double by Rodriguez and a walk to Adam Frazier.
The win gives the Pirates a 22-16 record, a half game behind the Cardinals who are leading in the third inning in San Diego, and tied for second with the Brewers, who are down a run in the sixth in Colorado.
The Pirates meet the Giants again at 7:05 pm on Saturday, as Jeff Samardzija (1-2) faces Chad Kuhl (4-2).