Ian Kinsler’s three-run homer off Pirates’ reliever Richard Rodriguez in the bottom of the sixth inning put the San Diego Padres into a lead they’d never relinquish in a 4-3 victory over visiting Pittsburgh.
Rodriguez leads the pitching staff with eight home runs allowed, in only 19 2⁄3 innings, after allowing five all of last year in 69 innings. It was Rodriguez’ second blown save and third loss of the year.
The Padres took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Franmil Reyes homered, his 13th, off starter Trevor Williams, who had to leave the game one inning later after experiencing discomfort in his side. Williams, studly as ever, allowed only the one run on two hits, a walk and five strikeouts in 3 2⁄3 innings.
Francisco Liriano came on to shut the door, striking out three of the five batters he faced, while his batting keyed a game tying rally in the fifth. Kevin Newman lead off with a pop up double that glanced off the glove of second baseman Kinsler ranging down the right field line. With the runner on second the pitcher Liriano swung away, and despite trotting to first beat out a slow roller to the pitcher down the third base line, sending Newman to third. Adam Frazier then hit a high chopper to the right side that the pitcher Eric Lauer again fielded and was late on his throw home, as Newman avoided the tag and scored to tie the game 1-1.
The Pirates again took advantage of sloppy San Diego defense to take a lead in the sixth. With one out Elias Diaz grounded a single to left, then third baseman Greg Garcia’s throw on Newman’s slow roller went down the right field line, putting runners at second and third. Diaz would then score on a wild pitch by Adam Warren.
All that went up in smoke in the bottom of the sixth. Rodriguez relived Liriano and with one out Eric Hosmer beat out a ground ball that evaded the shift on the left side. After the second out, Wil Myers walked, bringing up the 37 year old Kinsler, owner of a .717 batting average, and who hasn’t had a BA above .240 in three years. Rodriguez hung a 1-2 curve over the middle of the plate and Kinsler slammed the pitch at 101 mph down the left field line for the three-run homer that put the Padres up for good.
The Pirates got one run back in the seventh when Gregory Polanco smacked a long homer to right field, closing the gap to 4-3, but Craig Stammen and Kirby Yates retired Pittsburgh in order over the last two innings to seal down the victory.
Josh Bell was hitless in four trips, snapping his hitting streak at fifteen games.
The loss drops the Pirates to fourth place in the division, a half game behind the Cardinals and four games behind the first place Cubs, with a record of 21-20.
Game two of the four game series is scheduled to be played at 10:10 p.m. Eastern on Friday night, with Jordan Lyles (3-1, 2.09) slated to face left-hander Joey Lucchesi (3-2, 4.57)