While Atlanta scored first Friday night at PNC Park, it was the Pittsburgh Pirates who scored last as they edged the Braves 3-2 in ten innings along the North Shore.
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Clint Hurdle‘s squad has won eight of their last 10 games along the North Shore, and 14 of their last 18. The crew of the Jolly Roger own a record of 41-32 and remain in second place in the National League Central Division, eight games behind the first place St. Louis Cardinals (49-24).
If we borrow a tradition from the Penguins and hockey, the first star of the game was the Pirates’ Jordy Mercer. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound shortstop went 3-for-5 at the plate and collected his 11th double in the home half of the 10th when he sent a fly ball off the Clemente Wall in right off Atlanta’s Jason Grilli to score Andrew McCutchen. Grilli picked up his third loss against two victories this season.
I think the fans in attendance would agree that Pedro Alvarez was the second star when the Pirates first baseman singled on a line drive to center in the bottom of the fifth that drove in Neil Walker and McCutchen to give Pittsburgh a temporary lead of 2-1.
Our third and final star would go to the bullpen’s Mark Melancon, who did not permit a hit, struck out one batter and walked one in the 10th frame. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound righthander fired 10 of his 15 pitches for strikes in taking on four hitters. The 30-year-old Melancon picked up his first win this season.
An honorable mention would go to righthander Jared Hughes, who kept Atlanta off the scoreboard as he did not give up a hit in pitching the eighth and ninth innings. The 6-foot-7, 245-pound righthander fired 10 of his 12 pitches for strikes in facing the minimum six batters.
Francisco Liriano allowed just two earned runs on six hits over seven innings for the Pirates. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound lefthander struck out three and walked three on the evening. The San Cristobal, Dominican Republic native delivered 57 of his 97 pitches for strikes in dueling with 28 Braves at the plate.
Atlanta got on the scoreboard in the top of second when Ryan Lavarnway worked Liriano for a walk with the bases loaded that brought home Juan Uribe to give the Braves the early 1-0 lead. Uribe would come back to haunt Liriano in the sixth as he claimed his fourth home run of the season on a fly ball to center.
Williams Perez surrendered two earned runs on four hits in four 2/3 innings for the Braves. He struck out two and walked two. The 6-foot, 185-pound righthander hurled 40 of his 66 pitches for strikes in facing 21 batters.
Up Next: The Pirates and Braves will take the field Saturday afternoon in the middle contest of their three-game set. Atlanta will send 24-year-old Julio Teheran to the hill. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound righthander has a record of 5-3 with a 4.67 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP.
The Pirates will give the ball to 31-year-old Charlie Morton (5-1, 3.97 ERA/1.24 WHIP). The 6-foot-5, 225-pound righthander will be making his seventh start of the season. He is 1-2 with a 3.32 ERA in four career starts against Atlanta. The first pitch is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. and it will be broadcast on ROOT Sports Pittsburgh.
From The Clipboard: The game lasted 3:10 and there were 34,220 in the seats at PNC Park…Coming into Friday’s match-up, Mercer had gone 6-for-15 in his last three games…The Pirates have brought up righthander Deolis Guerra from Triple-A Indianapolis, and have placed righty Rob Scahill on the 15-day disabled list with right forearm tightness. The 26-year-old Guerra put together a record of 2-1 with four saves and a 1.23 ERA in 25 games with the Indians this season… In order to make room on the 40-man roster, first baseman/outfielder Andrew Lambo was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.