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Pirates eke out 5-4 win in the desert

San Francisco Giants v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Both Jameson Taillon and Zach Greinke were on the ropes after two innings. Each having thrown over 50 pitches, Taillon served up a tipped over the fence homer in the first while the Pirates hit Greinke with a four spot in the second.

In the end, Greinke only lasted 4 23 while Taillon put it on cruise control, throwing five shutout innings on only 55 pitches from the third through the seventh, while allowing only three base runners. Edgar Santana had an easy eighth, and then Felipe happened again in the ninth as the Pirates barely averted a sweep.

John Jay beat out a grounder to short to open the first. After two easy flies to the outfield, lefty swinging David Peralta hit one a bit deeper to left which Austin Meadows got a glove on - but the ball slipped through and ricocheted upwards and into the stands for a two-run homer.

Greinke couldn’t hold the lead for long. Colin Moran singled up the middle and Francisco Cervelli walked to start the Pirates’ second. Josh Bell then lined a double down the left field line to score Moran, and after Polanco walked Jordy Mercer put another double into the left field corner, plating two. Polanco scored the final run of the inning, running on contact when Josh Harrison grounded to third.

The Pirates tacked on another when Mercer drove a ball over the right field fence for his fourth homer, setting the score at 5-2.

Greinke, who entered the game with the second lowest walks per nine innings in the National League this year, was uncharacteristically wild, walking four while throwing only 58 of 101 pitches for strikes. He left with two outs in the fifth after loading the bases with a pair of walks to Moran and Cervelli following a long blast to straight center by Starling Marte that deflected back off the high wall for a double.

The score stayed 5-2 until the bottom of the ninth, when Clint Hurdle called on beleaguered closer Felipe Rivero Vazquez. Felipe was throwing beebees, several times reaching 101 mph on his fastball, but twice they turned into BBs as he loaded the bases with two outs on walks to Chris Owings and John Ryan Murphy following an opening single by Ketel Marte. With two outs and two strikes on the left hand batting Jon Jay, the longtime Pirates’ nemesis dropped a ball down the left field line which drove in a pair and sent Jay to second on Austin Meadows’ throw to third base. With the winning run at second base and first open, it was an easy call to intentionally pass by Arizona’s most fearsome hitter, loading the bases again for Jake Lamb who’s been historically ineffective against left-handed pitchers.

Felipe got ahead quickly 0-2, then needing only one more strike to put the game away, but the next two offerings weren’t close to the plate as the count evened at 2-2. Lamb fouled a 101 mph offering straight back, then mercifully swung through yet another at 101 to end the game.

To claim the save, Vazquez faced eight batters, five of them reaching and two scoring, while throwing only 20 of 36 pitches for strikes as his ERA rose to 4.73.

The hard fought victory puts the Pirates’ record at 33-35, 8.0 games behind the again first place Brewers, who beat the Cubs 1-0 in another day game.

Pittsburgh has Thursday off before returning home to face the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night, as Chad Kuhl (4-4, 3.95) faces Matt Harvey (1-4, 5.97)