Baseball / Sports

Pirates make a winning splash late in the game

PITTSBURGH -- The rain came in the eighth inning, a brief spurt that lasted only a few minutes. It mimicked the Pirates' scoring, brief spurts in the late innings that gave them their second come-from-behind victory in as many days.

In an 8-6 victory against the Toronto Blue Jays at PNC Park on Saturday night, the Pirates scored six runs in the seventh and eighth innings, five of them against the Blue Jays' bullpen. Jordy Mercer's pinch-hit double tied the game in the seventh and Neil Walker's two-run double in the eighth gave the Pirates the lead.

For the second consecutive night the Blue Jays' bullpen failed to hold a lead. Starter R.A. Dickey provided a small opening. The Pirates then jumped all over lefty Aaron Loup in a four-run, nine-batter seventh inning. Todd Redmond allowed two more runs in the eighth.

Walker came to the plate right as the rain started coming down in the eighth, after two singles put runners on first and third. He doubled to the wall off Redmond, scoring two runs and breaking a 6-6 tie.

Dickey had not allowed an extra-base hit all night until Clint Barmes doubled to lead off the bottom of the seventh with the Pirates trailing 6-2. That was it for Dickey when Blue Jays manager John Gibbons replaced him with lefty Aaron Loup to match up with Ike Davis.

Davis grounded out, sending Barmes to third. Josh Harrison pulled an RBI double down the left-field line to score Barmes.

Neil Walker singled, Andrew McCutchen walked to load the bases and Pedro Alvarez grounded out to score a run. Pinch-hitter Jordy Mercer drove a two-run double over the head of Colby Rasmus in center field to tie the game at 6-6. The double, Mercer's second extra-base hit of the season, broke an 0 for 25 slump.

Four of the five runs Liriano allowed Saturday were earned. He has allowed four earned runs in four of his seven starts this season, but Saturday he did so in 32/3 innings. Including his previous start, when dizziness resulting from a nosebleed forced him from the game in the third inning, Liriano has pitched a combined 52/3 innings in his past two outings.

He walked three batters, all in the fourth inning. The final walk forced in a run and prompted manager Clint Hurdle to remove Liriano from the game.

Tony Sanchez's error paved the way for a Blue Jays run in the third inning. Steve Tolleson struck out swinging at a pitch in the dirt and ran down to first, but Sanchez threw the ball away, allowing Tolleson to reach second.

The next batter, Josh Thole, singled to left. Blue Jays third-base coach Luis Rivera, perhaps not as versed in Starling Marte's arm strength as his National League counterparts, waved Tolleson home. Marte threw him out by 10 feet and Thole went to second on the throw.

Jose Reyes doubled to the left-center field gap to drive home Thole and put Toronto ahead, 1-0.

Liriano allowed the first four batters of the fourth inning to reach base on a walk, two singles and a double. Three runs scored, but a double play cleared the bases and brought Thole to the plate.

Thole hit a grounder between first baseman Gaby Sanchez and second baseman Neil Walker that Walker handled. His throw arrived at first just before Thole's foot touched the bag and first-base umpire Greg Gibson called Thole safe. Manager Clint Hurdle challenged, but the play stood and extended the inning.

Dickey grounded to short, but Barmes booted it to put runners on the corners and bring the top of the order to the plate. Liriano walked Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera, the latter base on balls forcing home a run, before Hurdle removed him.

Jared Hughes entered with the bases loaded and Jose Bautista at the plate and forced Bautista to ground into a force-out.

The Pirates got two back in the bottom half of the fourth. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases with none out, allowing Pedro Alvarez to score from third on a wild pitch. Barmes grounded out to score another run, and the Pirates trailed 5-2.

Bautista hit his ninth homer of the season off Vin Mazzaro in the sixth inning.

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