The Pittsburgh Pirates snapped their eight game losing streak with a 6-4, eleven inning victory over the Texas Rangers in Arlington on Tuesday night, as rookie outfielder Bryan Reynolds, called up ten days ago to replaced the then injured Starling Marte, broke a 3-3 tie in the tenth with his first career major league home run.
The game was scoreless into the bottom of the fourth when Jordan Lyles inability to keep his pitch counts down caught up with him, loading the bases on an infield single and a pair of walks before Elvis Andrus dropped a 59 mph pop fly over the glove of second baseman Adam Frazier for a two run single. Lyles’ night would be over after throwing 96 pitches in just those four innings.
Steven Brault pitched two dominant innings of relief, but the Pirates couldn’t do anything against their former minor leaguer Adrian Sampson, who threw five shutout innings with no walks and five strikeouts, somewhat aided by home plate umpire Ed Hickox’ super wide strike zone for fastballs.
Michael Feliz came on for his first outing of the year and pitched a scoreless seventh but ran into trouble when asked to go a second inning, when a batter reaching on a third strike passed ball and two walks loaded the bases with two outs, bringing up lefty slugger Joey Gallo. With Feliz at 39 pitches, Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle called on left-hander Francisco Liriano, who promptly walked Gallo to force in an all important third run.
Down 3-0 in the ninth, it looked like the Pirates were well on their way to another loss. Reynolds, who had twice earlier flied out to the warning track with two outs and two runners on, led off the inning against Ranger’s closer Jose LeClerc by lacing a double deep to right field, off the glove of Nomar Mazara. Cole Tucker beat out a ground ball to short and Adam Frazier rolled a ball into right field, scoring Reynolds to cut the Rangers’ lead to 3-1. After a visit to the mound, Starling Marte waved at strike three and Gregory Polanco was called out on yet another fastball well into the right-hand batter’s box. With one out remaining, Josh Bell lined a 1-0 pitch deep into left-center field, with Frazier racing around from first to tie the game before Bell was caught in a run down between second and third base.
Keone Kela faced his old team for the first time in the bottom of the ninth, stranding a leadoff single at second base and Kyle Crick breezed through the tenth.
Former Pirate Jese Chavez came in to pitch the tenth for the Rangers and stayed on for the eleventh, but Reynolds led off the inning by driving a fastball deep to center, well into the grass behind the wall. One out later Frazier’s pop fly was dropped by left fielder Shin-soo Choo for a two-base error, and Starling Marte made it count with a line drive home run into the bullpen in right-center field, his third long ball of the season, making the score 6-3 Pirates.
With a save situation in hand the call was made for Felipe Vazquez, who pumped five fastballs to Gallo, the last one landing in the upper deck in right-center for Gallo’s tenth homer and the first run allowed by Vazquez this year, bringing the Rangers to within two runs at 6-4. A one out single by Logan Forsythe, bringing the tying run to the plate was enough to turn the knuckles of the Pirates’ faithful white, but a fly out to right and a called strike three ended the game, wityh Vazquez earning his seventh save.
The victory improves the Pirates’ record to 13-14, 5.0 games behind the front running St. Louis Cardinals.
The short two-game series against the Rangers will conclude on Wednesday afternoon at 2:05 p.m. Eastern, as Jameson Taillon (1-3, 4.06) is scheduled to face veteran right-hander Shelby Miller (1-1, 7.52)