Jacob Stallings delivered a game-winning base hit in the bottom of the 12th inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates rallied to beat the Miami Marlins 8-7 Saturday at PNC Park.
The Pirate, winners of three straight, trailed 5-2 entering the eighth, but rallied for four runs to take a 6-5 lead and hand it over to closer Richard Rodriguez.
But for the second time in his last three outings, the usually reliable Rodriguez could not hold that lead in the ninth, and the Marlins tied the score at 6-6.
Both teams scored a run in the 10th on sacrifice flies and then after the Marlins failed to push a run across in the 11th, the Pirates squandered a golden opportunity in the bottom of the inning.
The inning opened with Kevin Newman at second, and he alertly advanced to third on a pitch in the dirt with Ka’ai Tom at the plate and no one out.
Tom failed to deliver, striking out on a pitch in the dirt, and pitcher JT Brubaker – pinch hitting for reliever Kyle Crick – hit a comebacker to John Curtiss, freezing Newman at third. Curtiss bobbled but retired Brubaker at first for the second out. Curtis then retired Adam Frazier on a foul popup to third.
After Clay Holmes retired the side in the top of the 12th, Ke’Bryan Hayes nearly ended it all when he drove a pitch from Adam Cimber to the wall in left-center that was caught by former Pirate Starling Marte. Newman advanced to third and after the Marlins walked Bryan Reynolds intentionally, Stallings lined a base hit to center to score Newman with the winning run.
The Marlins, losers of eight straight, used the long ball to build their 5-2 lead. Jesus Aguilar, Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Jorge Alfaro all took Pirates starter Chase De Jong deep to wipe out a 2-0 deficit and stake rookie left-hander Trevor Rogers to what appeared to be a comfortable lead.
The Pirates actually struck first against Rogers, who came into the game with a 6-3 record, a 1.87 ERA and a pair of Rookie of the Month awards to his credit.
De Jong helped his cause early with a sacrifice bunt in the second that put a pair of runners in scoring position.
The red-hot Frazier made it pay off by lining a single to left off Rogers, giving the Pirates a 2-0 lead.
De Jong had little difficulty through the first three innings and took that 2-0 lead into the fourth. But the Marlins used a pair of homers to vault in front 3-2.
De Jong surrendered a leadoff homer to Aguilar and then after former Pirate Corey Dickerson doubled and Alfaro flied out, Chisholm took an elevated fastball above the strike zone and deposited it over the right field wall to make it 3-2.
Miami added to the lead in the fifth on Aguilar’s single and Alfaro’s bomb to the bushes in center field, a shot that made it 5-2.
De Jong’s second start did not go as well as the first, as he went five innings and gave up five runs on seven hits. He walked one and struck out five.
Rogers, meanwhile, settled down after his rocky second inning and kept the Pirates in check during his six-inning stint. He retired 13 of the last 14 batters he faced, including 11 in a row.
Rogers yielded two runs on four hits, striking out five and walking two.
The Pirates awoke in the eighth, though, and briefly took the lead.
Hayes opened the eighth with a double and after Reynolds walked, Stallings popped out and Ben Gamel struck out. But Gregory Polanco beat out an infield grounder to short and after Anthony Bender came on to replace Anthony Bass, Newman drew a walk to force in a run, and Bender hit Tom to make it 5-4.
Michael Perez then grounded one to Aguilar at first, but Bender could not handle the throw at the bag and both Newman and Tom scored to give the Pirates a 6-5 lead.
Rodriguez came on in the ninth and promptly gave up a leadoff single to Magneuris Sierra. After Marte walked and Jose Devers lined out to center, Aguilar singled in the tying run.
Rodriguez regrouped to strike out the next two batters, but the Pirates could do nothing in the bottom of the ninth.
The Pirates will look to sweep the series when the two teams meet in the final game of the four-game set at 1:05 p.m.
Chad Kuhl (0-2, 6.41) gets the start for the Bucs. He’ll be opposed by Sandy Alcantara (2-5, 3.68).
Kuhl’s first start after a stint on the injury list did not go well, as he gave up three earned runs and six hits in four innings in a 2-0 loss to Kansas City on May 31. On the plus side, Kuhl registered five strikeouts.