When a team nearly doubles its season run total in a single game, it’s tough to bump that out of lead-story status, but Justin Wilson gave it his best shot.
The rookie lefty threw three hitless innings to stabilize what could’ve been a difficult night for the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching staff, providing the bedrock for the Bucs’ 5-3 victory over Arizona on Monday night at Chase Field.
Pittsburgh (2-5) broke a three-game losing streak by maximizing its offensive opportunities, with just five hits producing the five runs. The Pirates scored three in the top of the first for starter Wandy Rodriguez, who left the game in the third when he suffered a left hamstring injury.
After Jeanmar Gomez labored in relief, the Pirates turned to Wilson to start the fifth. The 25-year-old former Fresno State star carried the Bucs into the eighth inning, allowing no Diamondbacks to reach base while striking out a pair.
By the time Wilson entered the game, Andrew McCutchen had driven in Starling Marte with a sacrifice fly in the top of the fifth, giving the Pirates a 4-3 lead. McCutchen and Marte also teamed up in the first, as Marte’s leadoff single against Arizona starter Trevor Cahill preceded McCutchen’s RBI double.
Shockingly, the Pirates weren’t done scoring in the opening frame. Following walks to Russell Martin and Pedro Alvarez, Travis Snider bopped a single to right-center that plated a pair for a 3-0 advantage. For a team that had put up six runs in its first five games, it was an offensive bonanza.
Unfortunately, Rodriguez was unable to settle in for long. The veteran lefthander allowed a run-scoring single to Wil Nieves in the second, then departed with one out in the third after throwing only 39 pitches. The D-Backs (5-2) tied the score against Gomez, a two-run rally capped by Alfredo Marte’s RBI hit.
But Marte, who also had two hits Sunday in Los Angeles, roped a one-out triple to left in the fifth. Neal Walker was plunked by Cahill next, setting up McCutchen’s second RBI.
The Pirates didn’t collect another hit until the eighth, but it was a long one. Garrett Jones teed off on Josh Collmenter for his first home run of the year, drilling an inside pitch over the right-field wall.
Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli followed Wilson’s effort with scoreless, hitless innings of their own, making it a quiet end to a frustrating three games for the Pirates. Pittsburgh scored two runs over the weekend as they were swept by the Dodgers in their first road series of the year.
The Pirates will send James McDonald to the mound for his second start Tuesday night at 9:40 Eastern. He will be opposed by Arizona’s Brandon McCarthy, who was signed as a free agent from Oakland.