Pittsburgh Pirates Game Recap: Final Play Goes Phillies’ Way As Win Streak Ends At The Plate


May 13, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz (51) tags out Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Steve Lombardozzi (23) at home plate to end the game at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Jeff Francoeur has one of the best throwing arms in the big leagues, and the Pittsburgh Pirates were forced to test it.

Francoeur, well past his glory days with Atlanta, showed at least one of his skills is still elite, throwing out pinch-runner Steve Lombardozzi at home plate to complete a game-ending double play in a 3-2 Phillies victory Wednesday night.

The Pirates entered the ninth inning down a run, but a leadoff walk issued by Philadelphia closer Jonathan Papelbon to Francisco Cervelli inspired hope that the visitors could at least force extra innings at Citizens Bank Park.

That hope morphed into expectation when, after a Neil Walker strikeout, Papelbon fired a wild pickoff throw that caromed down the right-field line. Lombardozzi, who had come on for Cervelli, scampered all the way around to third base on the costly error.

With the Philadelphia infielders moving in near the grass, Pirates batter Jordy Mercer looked to lift a pitch for a game-tying sacrifice fly. Lift one he did, but rather shallow and into foul territory in right field.

Pirates third-base coach Rick Sofield decided to send Lombardozzi after Francoeur charged to his left to make the catch. The Phillies’ right fielder squared his body and gunned the ball just slightly up the line, but in plenty of time for catcher Carlos Ruiz to snag and apply the tag that ended Pittsburgh’s four-game win streak.

Prior to the ninth-inning drama, the crowd of nearly 30,000 was treated to a pitching battle between Cole Hamels and Francisco Liriano. Both veteran left-handers went seven innings, although Hamels permitted just six Pirates baserunners (five hits, one walk), while Liriano gave up 10, including seven Phillies hits.

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  • Following a brisk opening four frames, both offenses went to work in the fifth. The Pirates (17-17) loaded the bases on back-to-back singles by Walker and Mercer, then Josh Harrison was hit on the foot by a Hamels curveball one out later.

    Sean Rodriguez whiffed, one of nine Hamels strikeouts, leaving it up to Andrew McCutchen to cash in the opportunity. The Pirates’ star center fielder did just that, smacking a center-cut fastball up the middle for a two-run single.

    However, Liriano couldn’t hold the lead for long. The Pirates’ starter fanned six Phillies on the evening, but there was plenty of contact in the bottom of the fifth, starting with leadoff hits by Francoeur and Cesar Hernandez. Ruiz drove in a run with a line drive to left, one that yielded two bases when Marte double-clutched his throw back to the infield.

    Ben Revere‘s groundout to second base plated the tying run, setting up Freddy Galvis‘ go-ahead blooper that dropped just in front of Pirates right fielder Corey Hart.

    Liriano recovered to pitch two more innings, although the bottom of the seventh was rather rocky before Chase Utley bounced out with the bases loaded to keep it a 3-2 score.

    Pirates rookie reliever Rob Scahill struck out two in the eighth to hold the line, lowering his earned-run average further to 0.59. Despite being within striking distance, Pittsburgh’s offense managed just two baserunners over the final four innings and eight for the game.

    The Bucs can still earn a series victory with a good result Thursday afternoon. Vance Worley is scheduled to take the mound for Pittsburgh at 1:05 p.m., opposing Aaron Harang.

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