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Pirates do what they have to do in 5-4 win over Padres

MLB: San Diego Padres at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

This was one of those games you just knew would be trouble. The Pirates were facing one of the sport’s weakest lineups and a starting pitcher with an ERA over 8.00. They didn’t exactly dominate the game, but like they have many times this year, they did enough to win in a 5-4 final.

Despite the weak opposing lineup, Chad Kuhl wasn’t effective. He repeatedly got into deep counts, ultimately throwing 85 pitches to get through just four and a third innings. Kuhl especially had trouble against the bottom of the Padres’ order, allowing the last four hitters to reach base four times in seven plate appearances. A four-pitch walk to a struggling Manuel Margot set up a two-run third inning. In the fifth, a double by pitcher Eric Lauer triggered a two-run rally, both scoring on a double by Eric Hosmer. That finally chased Kuhl in favor of Steven Brault.

The offense was slow to get going against Lauer, waiting until the fourth inning to do anything of note. With two on and one out, Corey Dickerson looped one to left that Franchy Cordero couldn’t run down. That brought in one run, which the scorer put on the board even though the ball wasn’t barreled. Two others scored on a fly ball by David Freese and a hard liner by Sean Rodriguez that went for a double.

After Kuhl let San Diego retake the lead, Brault and, for one out, Edgar Santana kept a lid on things through seven. The Pirates tied it in the fifth when Max Moroff beat out a bunt and later scored when Josh Bell hit a hard grounder past short. They finally retook the lead in the seventh with the help of a Padres’ defense that otherwise played very well. Gregory Polanco led off with a double, but was in danger of being stranded at third until third baseman Christian Villanueva couldn’t come up with Dickerson’s hard grounder.

By the eighth and ninth innings, Michael Feliz and Felipe Vázquez apparently had checked out the Padres’ offense on Baseball Reference and realized who they were dealing with. They just blew the Padres away, with Vázquez striking out the side for his ninth save. Santana’s two-pitch out to finish the seventh got him his second career win and second win in two days.