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Persevering Pirates overcome weather and other . . . issues . . . to win fifth straight

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates survived a 90-minute rain delay, some rough outings from their bullpen and Clint Hurdle to pull out a 6-5 win over the Giants.

They once again jumped off to a 2-0 first-inning lead. A walk to Gregory Polanco, and a single and steal by Starling Marte, put two in scoring position with one out. Josh Bell hit a fly ball to fairly shallow left-center, but some indecision in the outfield and a poor throw let Polanco come home. Corey Dickerson then came through with a two-out single to plate Marte.

Chad Kuhl quickly gave the lead back, allowing solo home runs in the second to Evan Longoria and, annoyingly, Alen Hanson, leaving Hanson with more HRs than Bell. Kuhl has now allowed nine gopher balls in just 45.1 IP. Kuhl continued getting hit hard in the third, giving up a double to Andrew McCutchen that ultimately led to a 3-2 San Francisco lead on a sacrifice fly. All of the Giants’ six hits off Kuhl came off fastballs, most of them sinkers.

After the third, though, Kuhl settled down, allowing only two runners, both on walks, in the fourth through sixth innings. Meanwhile, Polanco tied the game in the third with his eighth home run. Then in the sixth, Francisco Cervelli, having done his part in a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play to end the top half, lined his sixth home run, a two-run shot, just over the railing in right-center, for a 5-3 lead.

Having thrown 90 pitches, Kuhl left after six. Michael Feliz gave up half the lead in the seventh when McCutchen doubled again, then scored with two outs when Brandon Belt looped a ball into right, barely over the glove of a shifted Jordy Mercer. With a one-run lead in the eighth, Clint Hurdle mechanically went with the struggling George Kontos. He quickly blew the lead, giving up a one-out single to Hanson and an RBI double on a belt-high, middle-of-the-plate cutter to the weak-hitting Austin Jackson. Hurdle lifted Kontos for Felipe Vasquez after just three batters, showing he had little confidence in the pitcher he’d just entrusted with a one-run lead. Vasquez ended up facing McCutchen with two on and two out, but got a ground out on a 3-2 pitch.

The Pirates got the run back against yet another former teammate, Tony Watson. After Bell’s leadoff double, they eventually loaded the bases with one out to Jordy Mercer. Watson uncorked one way inside, hitting Mercer to make it 6-5. Strikeouts by Max Moroff and Sean Rodriguez limited the lead to one.

Although Vasquez had thrown 21 pitches in the eighth, Hurdle didn’t even have anybody else warming up. Vasquez looked shaky from the start, with his fastball suddenly down from 99 mph to 95. He went 3-0 on Buster Posey to start the inning, but battled back to get a fly out and two ground outs, one on a nice play by Bell.

The win was the Pirates’ fifth straight. They’ll go for the sweep tomorrow with Ivan Nova facing Derek Holland.

(Since I’m talking about things that annoy me, the photo libraries that SBN subscribes to — the photos are from USA Today and Getty — has mostly photos of the Giants. You’d think they won the game. This is actually quite typical. So it’s not just ESPN. It does, however, make me even happier when the Pirates win. Take that, media.)