Another low scoring pitcher’s duel, another blown save, another extra inning game.
Starling Marte’s two-run homer in the top of the tenth propelled the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 5-3 victory over the Tigers at Comerica Field in Detroit.
Staring pitcher Joe Musgrove didn’t appear as sharp as his first two starts, allowing his first earned runs of the year, as he threw a large proportion of off-speed pitches, but lasted seven innings, allowing six hits and a walk to go with six strikeouts.
The Pirates never trailed, as they opened the scoring in the second on a Detriot defensive miscue. Melky Cabrera and Jung-ho Kang had singled with one out and Cabrera moved to third on J.B. Shuck’s ground out. Pablo Reyes then hit a slow dribbler to Miguel Cabrera at first base. Cabrera spun and looked for the force at second but found no one covering, then had no time to get Reyes at first as Cabrera crossed the plate with the first run.
They extended their lead to 3-0 in the fourth when Josh Bell singled and scored on Kang’s home run deep into the left-center seats, his second of the year.
The Tigers wouldn’t lie down though, bouncing back for a pair in the bottom on the fourth, as they strung together four straight well struck hits, but Musgrove escaped further damage by getting both Gordon Beckham and and Grayson Greiner swinging, the first two of ten consecutive outs from that point.
Pirates’ manager then turned to Richard Rodriguez for the eighth, who struck out two while managing to not serve up any game-tying long balls.
With Felipe Vazquez, and maybe Nick Burdi, and maybe even the just activated Kyle Crick not available to pitch, Keone Kela came to try to nail down the save. Christin Stewart, the first batter Kela faced, did not hit a home run, instead driving the ball half way up the wall in right for a double, then scoring the tying run on a single by the second batter, Jaimer Candelario. After a wild pitch put the winning run at second with no outs, Kela settled down to get the next three batters and send the game to extras.
Tiger’s closer Shane Greene, who hadn’t allowed a run in eight innings while collecting eight saves, was greeted by pinch-hitter Jason Martin’s ground ball single past a diving Josh Harrison and into right for a base hit. After Erik Gonzalez’s feeble attempt to bunt Martin to second resulted in a three-pitch strikeout, Adam Frazier grounded out, putting Martin at second. He wasn’t there long, however, as Marte drove the first pitch deep into the bullpen in center field for his second home run of the year.
With a two-run lead, the team turned to new closer...Nick Kingham. Grounder to short, strike out swinging, and a fly to Marte in center was all she wrote.
The win pus the Pirates’ record at 9-6. They’ll play the second and final game of the series in Detroit at 6:40 p.m. Eastern as Tervor Williams is scheduled to take on right-hander Spencer Turnbull.