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Pirates hold off late rally, defeat Padres 6-4

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MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at San Diego Padres Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Colin Moran hit a three-run home run and the Pirates bullpen held off a four-run rally in the bottom of the seventh inning to secure a 6-4 over the San Diego Padres, winning the series three games to one.

Pittsburgh did all the heavy lifting in the first inning, building a four run lead off Padres starter Cal Quantrill. Josh Bell struck a hung 84 MPH changeup for a single that knocked in Adam Frazier, who singled and had been bunted over to second by Melky Cabrera.

Bryan Reynolds then followed suit with a single and with himself and Bell on base, Colin Moran hit a 3-2 four-seam fastball over the Petco Park walls for a 4-0 lead.

Moran knocked in four of Pittsburgh’s six runs Sunday afternoon.

Native San Diegan Joe Musgrove kept the crooked numbers off the scoreboard until things started to fall apart in the seventh.

Greg Garcia doubled off a 1-1 four-seam fastball and was then knocked in by a groundball single from Alex Dickerson.

The wheels officially came off for Musgrove as Eric Hosmer reached first base on a throwing error. Then, with two ducks on the pond, knocked a dead-read cutter from Musgrove over the center field wall to bring the game within one run, 5-4.

Manager Clint Hurdle then turned to Geoff “Not ‘Jeff’” Hartlieb, Francisco Liriano, and Felipe Vazquez to seal the victory one game shy of a four game sweep.

Vazquez allowed a hit in the ninth but did his thing, striking three batters for his 13th save of the 2019 season.

The Pirates are on a roll, winning seven of ten and sitting just three games behind the Chicago Cubs. And don’t look now, but the Pirates are currently sitting in the second NL Wild Card spot.

It will be interesting to see how Hurdle manages the pitching staff going forward with a depleted starting rotation and a mix of inconsistent arms in the bullpen.

Pittsburgh returns home on Tuesday for a three-game stint against the Colorado Rockies.