The Pittsburgh Pirates withstood a ninth inning rally by Detroit Monday to hand the Tigers their first defeat of the season, 5-4 in the Bucs home opener at PNC Park.
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Clint Hurdle‘s crew was able to raise the Jolly Roger for the third time this season on home runs from Josh Harrison, Pedro Alvarez, and Corey Hart. The Bucs are 3-4 and are in fourth place in the National League Central Division.
Harrison brought the home crowd to their feet as he sent the first pitch he faced in the home half of the first over the center-field wall for his first home run of the season.
It was Andrew McCutchen who sent a sacrifice fly to right field to score Harrison in the bottom of the third to make it 2-0 in favor of the Bucs.
The Pirates assault of the scoreboard came to a crescendo in the bottom of the seventh as Alvarez blasted his third home run this season on a line drive to center field. Hart added to the box score with his first home run of the season that scored Francisco Cervelli on a fly ball to left-center field.
In picking up his first victory of the season, Gerrit Cole went six innings, threw 94 pitches, scattered three hits and surrendered only one earned run. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound right-hander walked two and struck out eight batters.
The Tigers claimed their first run in the top of the seventh when Nick Castellanos grounded into a double play off righty Jared Hughes, who came in from the bullpen to relieve Cole, that scored Miguel Cabrera from third.
Left-hander Tony Watson answered the call next and kept Detroit off the scoreboard by not allowing a hit and striking out two to finish the eighth inning. It was right-hander Mark Melancon, who got roughed up in the ninth, as he allowed three earned runs and struck out only one on 18 pitches.
Miguel Cabrera got it started in the top of the ninth with a line-drive double to left field that scored Ian Kinsler from second base. J.D. Martinez clubbed his fourth homer of the season to score Cabrera. Melancon closed the door by striking out pinch-hitter Victor Martinez.
Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez surrendered five earned runs on eight hits while striking out nine over six and 1/3 innings of work. The 6-foot, 205-pound right-hander threw 68 strikes on his 95 pitches.
It was another memorable opening day for Pirates fans to savor with their family and friends.
Up Next: The Pirates and the Tigers square off in the second match-up of their three-game set on Tuesday along the North Shore. The first pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. Detroit (6-1) will send right-hander Shane Green (1-0, 0.0 ERA) to the mound while the Bucs will counter with A.J. Burnett (0-0, 3.38 ERA).
The 38-year-old right-hander will be making his second start of the 2015 season tomorrow evening. His first start was a no-decision against the Reds in Cincinnati last Thursday. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound veteran went 0-1 with a 4.86 ERA in five starts during spring training. The game will be broadcast by ROOT Sports Pittsburgh.
From The Clipboard: The time of the game was 2:31 and the attendance was 39,933…The umpire crew was Bob Davidson behind home plate, David Rackley at first; Jerry Layne at second; and Hunter Wendelstedt at third…The Bucs reinstated left-hander Francisco Liriano from the paternity list and optioned right-hander Casey Sadler back to the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians.