Pittsburgh Pirates: Colby Rasmus grand slam prevents Pirates sweep


The Pittsburgh Pirates haven’t had many opportunities to come away with a sweep in a series this season.

They had that opportunity on Sunday but needless to say, Clint Hurdle‘s team didn’t take advantage of it.

May 4, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Edinson Volquez (36) pitches in the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Pirates’ starter Edinson Volquez allowed two crushing homers, including a grand slam off the bat of Colby Rasmus, and the Pirates bats came back to earth as the Bucs could solve Toronto Blue Jays’ starter Dusting McGowan in a 7-2 loss at PNC Park.

After scoring 14 runs and pounding out 27 hits in taking the first two games of the series, the Bucs managed only four knocks on Sunday as McGowan (2-1) pitched three-hit ball for seven innings, allowing one run and striking out five.

The Pirates actually got on the board early after a Neil Walker ground out plated Josh Harrison, who led off the home half of the first with a triple. However instead of building off that, the Pirates’ bats were silenced as they turned out poor at bat after poor at bat on the afternoon.

The lead didn’t last long as the theme of shaky starting pitching continued for the Bucs.

Volquez (1-3) gave up six runs and seven hits in five innings. He also allowed six earned runs in his last outing April 21 against St. Louis.

After a quick and efficient first inning, Volquez got himself into trouble in the second but walking Edwin Encarnacion and Juan Francisco to start the inning. Brett Lawrie reached on an infield single to load the bases with no outs and then Rasmus hit a full-count curveball deep into the right-field seats for his seventh home run of the season, giving the Blue Jays a 4-1 lead.

Melky Cabrera put the finishing touches on Volquez’s afternoon, extended Toronto’s lead to 6-1 with a two-run homer in the fifth inning, one of three hits on the afternoon.

The Pirates real only chance to get back into the game came in the fourth inning, but it ended in controversy.

Hurdle and first base coach Rick Sofield were ejected by plate umpire Greg Gibson at the end of the fourth inning for arguing a called third strike on Jordy Mercer. The strikeout stranded two runners and ended the Pirates threat.

The Jays added some insurance when Rasmus scored another run in the eighth on an RBI single by pinch-hitter Dioner Navarro.

Harrison tripled again in the Pirates half of the eighth inning and scored on an Andrew McCutchen sacrifice fly.

The Bucs will try and pick up another series win beginning Monday when the San Francisco Giants visit PNC Park.

The Pirates plan to recall LHP Jeff Locke to start against San Francisco. Locke was an All-Star last year, but struggled in the second half of 2013 and did not make the Pirates’ opening day roster. He is scheduled to be opposed by the Giants’ Matt Cain (0-3, 4.35 ERA).