McKenry's HR rallies Bucs
Clint Hurdle thought the same thing probably everyone else in PNC Park thought when the ball came off Neil Walker's bat to start the eighth inning in a tie game against the New York Mets on Monday: routine fly ball.
But there was miscommunication between left fielder Mike Baxter and center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis. They kept going for the ball until they were on top of one another. Nieuwenhuis dropped the ball, which rolled away, and Walker landed safely at third. Clint Barmes hit a sacrifice fly to score Walker on a close play at home and complete a comeback from a four-run deficit, as the Pirates won, 5-4.
“You watch the play develop, and ... you definitely think it's an out off the bat,” Hurdle said. “And then it's not.
“It was a gift, and we were able to cash in on it.”
Catcher Michael McKenry, who grounded into a bases-loaded double play to squash a fourth-inning rally, set up the winning play in the seventh. He hit his third home run of the season off Mets starter Johan Santana, a two-run shot to left field that tied it at 4.
The Mets' left-hander entered the game with a 1.96 career ERA in six games (five starts) and two complete-game shutouts against the Pirates.
“You just try to take whatever you can get from guys like that, and luckily he left the pitch up for me,” McKenry said.
Josh Harrison, Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez hit consecutive doubles in the fourth to cut the Mets' lead to two after a second inning that could have easily led to a loss for the offensively challenged Pirates.
Lefty Erik Bedard gave up four runs on four hits in the second inning and was already at 51 pitches going into the third. He was done after five, having given up six hits and three walks. He struck out four.
With one out and a runner on first, former Pirates shortstop Ronny Cedeno hit a fly ball that dropped on the warning track and bounced off the wall between Harrison and McCutchen, scoring one. Bedard walked the No. 8 batter, catcher Mike Nickeas, and Santana moved over both runners with a sacrifice bunt before Bedard walked leadoff man Andrew Torres.
That set up a two-run single by Justin Turner, who hit the ball past a diving Barmes. David Wright singled to make it 4-0 before Bedard got the final out — facing the ninth batter of the inning.
“I just didn't throw many strikes, and when I did, they hit it,” Bedard said.
Bedard allowed two more hits over the next three innings, and Chris Resop, Tony Watson, Jared Hughes (1-0) and Joel Hanrahan kept the Mets from scoring any more. Hanrahan got his 10th save.
Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7980 or firstname.lastname@example.org.