It wasn’t that long ago when the Pittsburgh Pirates were sitting at 1-5 and everyone’s fingers were close to pushing the panic button.
But the Pirates didn’t panic and instead turned things around and after completing a very successful homestand, suddenly sit at 10-8 on the young season.
The final task of what was a 10-game homestand was the ever so tough challenge of defeating Kris Medlan and the Atlanta Braves on Sunday afternoon. But thanks to some timely hitting and an outstanding day from the Bucs bullpen, that’s exactly what they did as the Pirates won their ninth game in 12 tries with a 4-2 victory over the Braves, taking 3-of-4 from the best team in baseball.
This time the Pirates victory didn’t result in a good outing from their starter as Jonathan Sanchez was not very good once again as he gave up a pair of runs in three innings of work, allowing four hits while walking three.
But the Pirates bullpen covered six innings without allowing a run and kept the game close until the Pirates offense could come through with a big hit.
The combination of Jeanmar Gomez, Justin Wilson, Jared Hughes, Tony Watson and Jason Grilli allowed only four hits in six shutout innings, while striking out eight Braves hitters.
After a quick first inning, the Braves got four straight hits off of Sanchez in the second and took a 2-0 lead on RBI singles off the bats of Gerald Laird and Andrelton Simmons.
But the Bucs answered right back in their half of the second.
Pedro Alvarez led off the inning with a single and came around to score on an RBI double from Russell Martin. One batter later the Bucs made it a 2-2 game when Clint Barmes came through with a single that plated Martin.
Things stayed that way until the sixth when the Bucs took the lead by playing small ball.
Neil Walker led off the inning with a single and was able to move to second base when Justin Upton robbed Alvarez with a leaping catch at the wall, which proved to be a big play in the game. Martin then moved Walker to third with a ground out and then Walker scored the go-ahead run on an infield single by Barmes.
Since last July 31, Medlan has led all of baseball in wins, ERA and OBP against, but the Pirates managed to score three runs on seven hits in six innings off of the Braves ace. It marked only the second time in his career as a starter that Medlan has allowed more hits than innings pitched and also marked only the second time that Medlan allowed at least three runs in a start.
The Pirates added one more in the seventh when Travis Snider scored on a wild pitch from Luis Avilan to make it 4-2.
The Bucs hit the road beginning tomorrow as they start a 10-day trip in Philadelphia with A.J. Burnett on the hill.
Notes: The Pirates pounded out 10 hits on the afternoon as Snider, Martin and Barmes all had multi-hit days….The six Pirates pitchers combined to strike out 13 Atlanta hitters…Martin threw out 2-of-3 base stealers on the day giving him five caught stealing’s in 10 attempts on the season. Just to note, Rod Barajas threw out only six runners all year last season…The win was the first in Wilson’s MLB career.
Winning Pitcher: Justin Wilson (1-0)
Losing Pitcher: Kris Medlan (1-2)
Save: Jason Grilli (7)
Home Runs: None