The Pittsburgh Pirates withstood a late rally by Philadelphia in the ninth inning on Wednesday night to defeat the Phillies 6-5, taking the middle game of their three-game series in front of 33,197 at PNC Park.
The victory was the 52nd of the season for the Bucs – which tied them with Boston for the most wins in baseball – and it kept them in first place in the National League Central by two games over the Cardinals. It marked the eighth consecutive time for the Bucs to have a crowd of at least 30,000 at home this season.
Andrew McCutchen reached base five times and scored twice for the Pirates. Pedro Alvarez hit his 21st home run to help secure the win. On the mound, Jeff Locke pushed his personal winning streak to eight games (8-1) for the Pirates. The young lefthander allowed just two earned runs as he scattered seven hits to go along with three walks and two strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings.
Lefthander Justin Wilson surrendered an RBI single to finish out the sixth for Locke. Jeanmar Gomez worked a scoreless seventh and righthander Mark Melancon put together a perfect eighth. Jason Grilli, after striking two out, gave up a home run in the ninth, but hung on to pick up his 28th save in 2013.
The Phillies’ John Lannan saw his record fall to 1-3 when he gave up four runs on 11 hits. The lefthander walked three and struck out five in five innings of work.
Pittsburgh brought all cannons to bear on Lannan in the bottom of the fifth inning to take the lead in the ballgame. Russell Martin’s single to center field scored McCutchen with one out. Alvarez launched his home run to right-center field to score Gaby Sanchez and Martin to make the score 4-1 in favor of the Bucs.
The Pirates added two more runs in the bottom of the sixth when with one out, Russell Martin doubled to left field to score McCutchen. One batter later, Sanchez scored on Jake Diekman’s wild pitch to give Pittsburgh a 6-3 lead.
The Phillies got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth when Ben Revere singled with two out to score Domonic Brown. Philadelphia added two more runs in the top of the sixth when pinch-hitter Kevin Frandsen singled to right field to score Delmon Young with two out. Michael Young then reached first base on shortstop Jordy Mercer’s fielding error which allowed Carlos Ruiz to score with still two out.
The Phillies made things interesting in the top of the ninth when Domonic Brown hit a home run to right field off Grilli. However, Grilli struck out Delmon Young to close out the game and preserve the 6-5 win.
The final contest of the three-game series is set for 1:35 p.m. Thursday. The Phillies (40-45) will send lefthander Cole Hamels (2-11, 4.58 ERA) to the mound while the Pirates will counter with righthander Gerrit Cole (4-0, 3.70). The 22-year-old will be making his fifth major league start on Thursday afternoon. The game will be broadcast on ROOT Sports Pittsburgh.
From The Clipboard: Righthander Mark Melancon has been scored upon just three times in his last 34 games….Root Sports has reported that local ratings for Pirates baseball are up 19 percent over last season. Also, the Bucs are ranked fifth in Major League Baseball in local ratings….The Pirates have posted a 27-7 record when Pedro Alvarez collects at least one RBI in a game….Pittsburgh signed two more draft picks this week – shorstop Adam Frazier, who was chosen in the sixth round, and catcher Andrew Dennis, who was selected in the 37th round. Both players were sent to short-season Single-A Jamestown in the New York-Penn League.