Thanks to Vance Worley's strong start, the Pirates won their third game in a row, a 2-1 victory against the San Diego Padres at PNC Park on Friday night.
After Worley allowed one run in seven innings Friday, he lowered his ERA during his past four starts to 0.96. In 28 innings during that time he has walked five batters, struck out 17 and allowed 23 hits. Pirates starters are now 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in the past six games.
Worley allowed a hit and a run to the first batter he faced but no further scoring. His defense helped him out of a jam in the sixth and he struck out the side in his final inning of work.
The Padres team that entered PNC Park Friday represented an improvement over the offensive disaster that was their first-half roster. Their 4.7 runs per game since the All-Star break ranked second in the National League, behind only the Pirates' 4.9 mark. Better performance from Yonder Alonso -- hitting .429 since returning from the disabled list July 26 -- and a recent hot streak in August from Will Venable have helped.
Save for Josh Harrison and Gregory Polanco, Ian Kennedy successfully held the Pirates in check through six innings. But Harrison and Polanco combined for six hits, five of them off Kennedy, who allowed two runs, one earned, and seven hits.
Kennedy entered Friday's game after five strong starts in his past six outings, including eight scoreless innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers July 12. He allowed one run and only two hits in his most recent start, against the Atlanta Braves, Aug. 2, but his seven walks pushed his pitch count to 101 and forced him from the game after five innings.
Everth Cabrera led off the game with a double to left field. Two sacrifices later, he scored, and the Padres had an early lead.
The Pirates leveled the score in the bottom half. Harrison missed a home run to right-center field by six inches, and his hit, which ricocheted off the yellow-padded top of the railing, resulted in a triple. Polanco's RBI single tied the game.
Polanco stole second and advanced to third when Rene Rivera's throw bounced into center field. Ike Davis' sacrifice fly scored Polanco and gave the Pirates a 2-1 lead.
The Pirates loaded the bases before the Padres could record an out in the third inning but exited the inning without adding to their lead. Josh Harrison's leadoff single, Gregory Polanco's double and Russell Martin's walk brought Ike Davis to the plate, but he struck out. Starling Marte hit a soft liner to short that Everth Cabrera caught running into the outfield, and he threw to second before Polanco could tag for the inning's third out.
Worley escaped a similar situation in the sixth. Everth Cabrera and Yangervis Solarte singled, and Seth Smith walked to load the bases with no outs. Jedd Gyorko grounded to third, where Josh Harrison threw home to start a 5-2-3 double play. Yonder Alonso flied out to end the threat.
Harrison stayed in the game despite hurting his ankle in the fifth. He walked to start the inning and took off for second, but the Padres pitched out. Everth Cabrera rolled over Harrison's left ankle as he tried to corral the ball and Harrison stayed down in pain for a few minutes before leaving the field, but he took the field on defense in the sixth.
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