Diamondbacks hammer Pirates, 10-2, avert series sweep at PNC
The Vanimal is human, and the blank chalkboard Ernesto Frieri was handed in Pittsburgh is no longer pristine.
The Pirates dealt with those realities in a 10-2 loss to the Diamondbacks on Thursday.
Vance Worley — nicknamed “Vanimal” by his college strength coach due to his tenacious work ethic — entered Wednesday night with 1.74 ERA through three starts, a remarkable performance considering he was acquired for cash considerations in March.
Worley was perfect through four innings at PNC Park and took a no-hitter into the sixth until Ender Inciarte singled to score Didi Gregorius, who had reached on a walk. In the next at-bat, Worley hung a slider to David Peralta, who smashed the pitch over the Clemente Wall to give the Diamondbacks a 3-2 lead.
The Diamondbacks pitching staff required no more support. But they received plenty as Frieri showed why the Angels gave up on his electric but inconsistent arm.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Frieri arrived to Pittsburgh with a “blank chalkboard,” but his work with the Pirates has been ugly. He has allowed eight hits in 2 2⁄3 innings.
Frieri surrendered five hits and five runs in one-third of an inning in a seven-run ninth inning as the Diamondbacks built a 10-2 lead.
Frieri allowed the Diamondbacks to spray line drives all around the field. Aaron Hill and Martin Prado began the inning with line-drive singles. Cody Ross followed with a double, scoring Hill. Gregorius blooped an RBI single, scoring Prado.
Frieri left too many fastballs out over the plate as he had done in Los Angeles. He was replaced by Jeanmar Gomez, who allowed a two-run single to Peralta and two more runs of his own.
The Pirates took an early lead against Diamondbacks starter Brandon McCarthy, who has been connected to the Pirates as a potential trade target.
McCarthy entered with a 5.11 ERA despite a stellar walk rate (1.5 walks per nine innings) and an excellent ground-ball rate, the product of an above-average sinker, which is averaging a career-best 93 mph this season.
Gregory Polanco recorded his 13th RBI in 22 games when he drove in Jordy Mercer with a fielder's choice in the third to open the scoring. Mercer had reached on a double.
In the fourth, the Pirates took a 2-0 lead. Neil Walker doubled and scored on Ike Davis' single. The Pirates' first three baserunners reached in the fourth, but a bigger inning shorted out when Pedro Alvarez grounded into a double play.
McCarthy allowed two runs and eight hits in 5 2⁄3 innings. He struck out six and walked two.
When left-hander Oliver Perez replaced McCarthy in the sixth, Josh Harrison pinch-hit for Alvarez, suggesting that perhaps the Pirates' third-base situation might be becoming a pure platoon.
Alvarez might be running out of time to prove himself against left-handed pitching. Alvarez has a poor .610 career OPS against left-handed pitching. The performance is even worse this year, dipping to a .579 mark against lefties.
Harrison has his own playing concerns. He was held out of the starting lineup for a second straight day, and with a full healthy lineup it will be more difficult for Harrison to break into lineups against right-handed starting pitching.
Andrew McCutchen returned to the lineup, but he appeared to be dealing with some discomfort after fouling a ball off his foot Wednesday night.
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