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Pirates storm back for 6-3 win over Padres

MLB: San Diego Padres at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

On a sunny Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh the Pirates were going up against the Padres’ star rookie pitcher Chris Paddack. owner of a 3.15 ERA in his first twelve major league starts and a 1.82 mark over his minor league career. When in the fourth inning Manny Machado took the Pirates’ starter Chris Archer deep into the left field seats for his 16th homerun and 1 1-0 Padres lead, many Pirates’ faithful groaned “not again!” and envisioned that feat repeated, possibly many times in that inning, with Archer working against a lineup that already has two slugger with more than twenty long balls.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. Machado’s homer was one of only two hits Archer would allow on the day, the bullpen would provide solid relief, and the Pirates’ bats mounted a splendid comeback, highlighted by Jose Osuna’s two-run pinch-hit homer and Adam Frazier’s bases load single, en route to a 6-3 Pirates’ victory.

To those in the audience, even the alcohol ladened, Paddack didn’t seem nearly as dominant as advertised. He was getting outs, but by the end of the day walked three and struck out only one.

With the Pirates’ down 1-0 in the bottom of the fifth, Jacob Stallings rolled a one-out cingle into left field. Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle then decided that Archer’s day was done after 85 pitches and sent Jose Osua up to pinch-hit. It’s not a role that Osuna has thrived in during his three partial years with the Pirates, sporting a career 196/225/430 mark off the bench, but he drove a Paddack pitch deep to right-center field that just cleared a hopeful Wil Myer’s reach and settled into the seats for Osuna’s third pinch-homer of the season and a 2-1 Pirates’ lead.

Richard Rodriguez tossed an effective sixth, fanning a pair of batters, but Francisco Liriano got into trouble in the seventh when with one out pinch-hitter Manuel Margot lined a double to left then went to third when Ian Kinsler dropped down a perfect bunt single to third when he saw the defense playing back on the edge of the outfield grass. With runners at the corners and one out Fernando Tatis Jr lifted a high fly to center that scored Margot with the tying run and saw Kinsler take second on Marte’s throw home. The crowd was still on edge as Eric Homer walked bringing Machdo back to the plate, but he grounded out to second to end the threat.

With a tie score, Kyle Crick didn’t make it easy for the faint of heart in the eighth. Hunter Renfroe went down swinging but Josh Naylor walked. Myers went out swinging but Francisco Mejia singled. Franmil Reyes, with twenty homers on the year, strode to the plate as a pinch-hitter...and he went down swinging.

With the Padres’ veteran reliever Craig Stammen on the ound for the eighth, Starling Marte ripped the first pitch of the inning down the right field line and bouncing off the wall past the fielder. Marte raced around second and slid into third, ahead of the throw for a triple. With the infield in and the outfield back, Josh Bell was itching to drive Marte home with the lead run but took a 3-2 pitch for ball four. After Colin Moran tapped softly back to the mound, holding Bell at third but sending Bell to second, Corey Dickerson was intentionally walked to load the bases, setting up a possible inning ending double play. Adam Frazier obliged with a ground ball, but it was too far up the middle for second baseman Kinsler to track down as it rolled out into center field, driving in two runs.

Then Elias Diaz ripped a harder ball up the middle for another single, driving in Dickerson for a 5-2 Pirates’ lead. Jung-ho Kang then pinch-hit, battlign Stammen until he lifted a deep fly to center, scoring Frazier on the sacrifice fly, the fourth run of the inning.

With a four run lead and no save opportunity, Hurdle turned to Michael Feliz to close out the ninth. Kinsler fanned but Tatis walked. Hosmer grounded out, sending Tatis to second, but Machado roped a single to center, scoring Tatis and closing the score to 5-3 with two outs.

Then a save opportunity, Hurdle was immediately out of the dugout with left arm raised to signal for Felipe Vazquez, who didn’t disappoint, striking out Renfroe swinging to end the game.

Winner of three in a row and five of their last seven games, the Pirates are still cellar dwellers in their division despite being only 5.5 games behind the front running Cubs.

They’ll go for a sweep at 1:35 p.m. Eastern on Sunday afternoon as the Padres’ left-hander Joey Lucchesi (6-4, 3.74) faces the Pirates’ resurgent Steven Brault (3-1, 4.40), who’s allowed only three earned runs in his last four starts.