For the second straight game, the Pittsburgh Pirates trailed 3-1 entering the seventh inning, and for the second straight game they came back to win.
Garrett Jones’ two-run, pinch-hit double in the eighth put the Pirates ahead for good Thursday afternoon at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park, as the Bucs won 6-3 to take three out of four games from the Phillies. Pittsburgh (13-9) has won 12 of 16 games after starting the season with one victory in its first six.
Jones’ bases-loaded line drive off the right-field wall was the Pirates’ biggest blow of the day, but the rally began in the seventh when Gaby Sanchez and Michael McKenry came through with consecutive two-out RBI singles to tie the game and chase Phillies starter Cliff Lee.
Lee successfully lobbied Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel to stay in the game after Sanchez blooped a base hit to center to make it a 3-2 game. McKenry followed with another soft liner up the middle, driving in Andrew McCutchen, who had singled after Starling Marte’s walk to start the uprising.
In the eighth, Pirates light-hitting shortstop Clint Barmes was hit with a pitch by reliever Phillippe Aumont with one out. Travis Snider and Marte then grounded consecutive singles to left to fill the bags for Brandon Inge. Bucs manager Clint Hurdle sent Jones up to pinch-hit, and the lefty swinger bashed a 3-1 offering from the righty Aumont to break the tie.
Lefthander Chad Durbin entered the game for the Phillies (9-14) at that point, and Sanchez greeted him with a sacrifice fly that increased the Pirates lead to 6-3. Sanchez, who hit a solo homer in the sixth to tie the game 1-1, finished his day in the cleanup spot 2 for 4 with three RBIs.
With the steady late-inning duo of Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli unavailable, Tony Watson came out of the Pittsburgh bullpen in the bottom of the eighth to ostensibly finish the game. He allowed a leadoff double to Chase Utley, but limited the damage to a Ryan Howard RBI groundout. Watson then stranded a runner in the ninth to earn his first save of the season.
Justin Wilson was awarded the win after a sterling two-inning relief appearance, taking over for Pirates starter James McDonald with no outs in the sixth. McDonald gave up three runs and struck out four in an uneven performance, but Wilson got six outs while holding the Phillies hitless.
McDonald and Lee kept the game scoreless until the bottom of the fourth, when Domonic Brown lofted a shallow fly ball that dropped in front of McCutchen in center field, scoring Utley. Sanchez’ bomb to left-center, his third of the season and second of the series, tied the score before Howard looped a run-scoring single to right and Brown smacked a sac fly in the bottom of the sixth.
Pedro Alvarez and Marte each collected two singles for the Bucs. Inge went 1 for 4 in his second straight start since his recall, albeit his first at second base.
The Pirates will ride their three-game winning streak into St. Louis on Friday night, as their 10-game road trip continues. Jonathan Sanchez will oppose the Cardinals’ Lance Lynn at 8:15 p.m. Eastern time.