The Pittsburgh Pirates (18-22) forced the game into extra innings Wednesday, but it was the Twins (23-17) who pushed a run across the plate in the 13th as Minnesota defeated the Bucs 4-3 at PNC Park.
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Clint Hurdle’s squad is 0-6 in extra inning contests. With the two-game sweep by the Twins, the Jolly Roger crew has been swept three times in a series this season, and are 1-4 in interleague action. They have lost six of their last seven.
There was hope among the Pirates faithful that victory might still be in reach when Andrew McCutchen launched his fifth home run of the season in the eighth on a fly ball to right center off Minnesota reliever Blaine Boyer. In addition to his RBI, the center fielder went 3-for-5 at the plate and scored a run.
Minnesota’s Joe Mauer broke the logjam with his first home run of the season in the 13th when he sent a fly ball to right center off lefthander Antonio Bastardo (0-1).
Jeff Locke allowed three earned runs in the first frame and then settled down to go six innings for the Pirates. He gave up a total of seven hits as he struck out six and walked two. The 6-foot, 190-pound lefthander delivered 28 of his 55 pitches for strikes.
It was Torii Hunter who staked the Twins to a three runs in the first with his eighth double of the season on a sharp line drive to right off Locke that drove in Danny Santana and Mauer.
Starling Marte got a run back in the home half of the first when he collected his eighth double off Minnesota starter Mike Pelfrey on a grounder to right that brought home Neil Walker.
Jose Tabata came in as a pinch hitter and added a run in the seventh with a line drive single to center off Minnesota’s Aaron Thompson that scored Pedro Alvarez.
Pelfrey surrendered one earned run on five hits over six innings for Minnesota. He struck out five and walked no one. The 6-foot-7, 240-pound righthander hurled 61 of his 92 pitches for strikes.
A pair of Twins lefthanders shared the spoils of victory. Brian Duensing (1-0) picked up his first win for throwing a scoreless 12th. Glen Perkins claimed his 15th save when he threw 10 of his 17 pitches for strikes to end the game.
The one other bright spot for the Pirates was the bat of Josh Harrison as he went 3-for-6 on the night and extended his hitting streak to eight games. He said on the team’s web site, “Tough losses, man. Anytime you go into extra games and you lose in extras, it [stinks]. No need to hang our heads. We’ll take tomorrow, a day off, and come back Friday back at work.”
There was a special moment on the North Shore when Troy Polamalu received a standing ovation from the fans before the seventh inning after a brief video tribute by the Bucs. It was the first public appearance for the Steelers safety since announcing his retirement last month after 12 seasons with the Black and Gold.
Up Next: Following a day off Thursday, the homestand will continue Friday with a three-game series against the New York Mets. It concludes with a trio of contests against the Miami Marlins starting Monday night.
A pair of righthanders will be in action Friday. The Mets will start Noah Syndergaard (1-1, 3.18 ERA/1.24 WHIP) and the Pirates will counter with Gerrit Cole (5-2, 2.40 ERA/1.15 WHIP). The matchup will be on ROOT Sports Pittsburgh.
From The Clipboard: The game went 3:56 and there were 21,718 in attendance at PNC Park…Coming into Wednesday’s matchup, Pittsburgh’s catchers are hitting .297 with 14 RBI and a .344 on-base percentage…Josh Harrison is the only player this season with four hits in a single game. He did it Friday, May 15 against the Cubs…Pedro Alvarez has 111 career home runs which ranks him 17th on the Pirates’ all-time list. Bobby Bonilla is at 16 with 114.