“All’s well that ends well” was the theme of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ back-to-back wins to start their weekend series with the Miami Marlins.
The Bucs’ suddenly potent offense built leads of four runs Friday and six runs Saturday before the Marlins surged back to make both games very interesting. Still, the Pirates stretched their victory streak to four, hanging on to win 8-6 on both nights.
It was a slightly different story Sunday afternoon in south Florida, as Pittsburgh carried a 2-0 edge into the eighth inning behind a strong spot start from call-up Vance Worley. However, sloppy defense and poor relief pitching surrendered the advantage, followed by a tough-to-swallow 10th inning that handed the Marlins a 3-2 win.
The Pirates (34-35) appeared poised to sweep a series in Miami for the first time since the Marlins’ inaugural season of 1993 before it all fell apart late. Starling Marte‘s triple in the third inning plated Gregory Polanco, who had singled to stretch his hitting streak to six games to begin his MLB career. The rookie right fielder had two hits Sunday and nine in the three-game series.
Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison also collected two hits, with the latter driving in Russell Martin in the fourth for a two-run lead. McCutchen has multiple hits in each of his past eight games, the longest such streak in MLB this season.
Meanwhile, Worley dodged five hits to toss seven scoreless innings, the third straight time a Pirates starter made it that deep into a ballgame. The former Phillie and Twin struck out five Marlins in his Pittsburgh debut, continuing what had been a stellar season at the Triple-A level.
Tony Watson, who is having a spectacular season of his own, was the lone Pirates reliever who didn’t throw Friday or Saturday before entering Sunday’s game in the eighth. An errant throw by third baseman Pedro Alvarez – which was generously ruled a hit for pinch-hitter Jeff Baker – gave the Marlins a leadoff baserunner, followed by Rafael Furcal‘s clean single up the middle.
Watson rebounded to strike out Reed Johnson and National League home run and RBI leader Giancarlo Stanton to get to the verge of bailing out Alvarez. But former Pirate free-agent bust Casey McGehee laced a two-strike, two-run double to left-center field to tie the score.
After a relatively calm ninth, the Pirates loaded the bases in the 10th with no outs, as Marte walked, McCutchen singled and Ike Davis walked against wild Marlins reliever A.J. Ramos. Martin needed merely a fly ball to put Pittsburgh back ahead, but he grounded into a third-to-home-to-first double play to squelch the rally. Clint Barmes struck out swinging, ending the threat completely.
In the bottom of the frame, Ed Lucas singled to lead off against Jared Hughes. A bunt moved Lucas to second and a wild pitch nudged him to third, where he was chased home by McGehee’s game-winning sacrifice fly to right field.
The Pirates will host the Reds on Tuesday night at PNC Park, opening a three-game series.