Share This Page

Walker's 11th-inning homer gives Pirates 1-0 victory over Tigers

| Tuesday, May 28, 2013, 11:51 p.m.
The Pirates' Neil Walker (is congratulated by Andrew McCutchen after homering against the Tigers during the 11th inning Tuesday, May 28, 2013.
The Pirates' Neil Walker arrives at the dugout after homering during the 11th inning Tuesday, May 28, 2013.
Getty Images
The Pirates' Neil Walker celebrates after homering in the 11th inning against the Tigers on Tuesday, May 28, 2013.
Getty Images
Pirates pitcher Jeanmar Gomez delivers in the first inning against the Tigers on Tuesday, May 28, 2013.
Getty Images
A tarp covers the field during a rain delay at Comerica Park before a game between the Pirates and Tigers on Tuesday, May 28, 2013.
Getty Images
The Tigers' Miguel Cabrera singles to left field during the first against the Pirates on Tuesday, May 28, 2013.
Getty Images
The Pirates' Jeanmar Gomez delivers in the second inning against the Tigers on Tuesday, May 28, 2013.
Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez reaches for a ball hit by the Tigers' Torii Hunter during the third inning Tuesday, May 28, 2013. Hunter reached on a single.
Pirates shortstop Clint Barmes jumps over the Tigers' Alex Avila at second base as he throws to first for a double play on Don Kelly during the fifth inning Tuesday, May 28, 2013.
The Pirates' Russell Martin walks back to the dugout after striking out against the Tigers' Rick Porcello during the seventh inning Tuesday, May 28, 2013.
Getty Images
The Tigers' Rick Porcello pitches against the Pirates during the first innng Tuesday, May 28, 2013.
Getty Images
The Pirates' Neil Walker celebrates with Garrett Jones after homering in the 11th inning against the Tigers on Monday, May 28, 2013.
Getty Images
The Pirates' Neil Walker celebrates with teammates after homering during the 11th inning against the Tigers on Tuesday, May 28, 2013.
Getty Images
Pirates closer Jason Grilli celebrates the final out in the 11th against the Tigers on Tuesday, May 28, 2013.
Pirates closer Jason Grilli and catcher Russell Martin celebrate their 1-0 win against the Tigers on Tuesday, May 28, 2013.

DETROIT — The Pirates entered Tuesday with an extra-base hit in 46 straight games, the longest such streak in the majors.

Make it 47.

Neil Walker turned on a Jose Ortega hanging slider, hooking a soaring home run just inside the right-field foul pole in the 11th inning — the Pirates' first extra-base hit of the game — for the only run in a 1-0 victory.

The home run was Walker's third hit of the game, his third home run of the year and his second homer in four games — indicative of the Pirates' second baseman getting comfortable at the plate since returning May 13 from a hand injury. Walker said he has been working to regain his rhythm.

“I felt pretty good on this road trip. My timing is pretty good,” Walker said. “The guy was throwing hard; I was trying to get ready early. Sometimes you just see some of those off-speed pitches float into the zone, and that was the case there. I was able to pull my hands in and drive the ball.”

The Tigers entered Tuesday second in the majors with an active extra-base hit streak of 43 games — hardly surprising, given the depth and talent of their lineup. Yet, it came to an end thanks to 11 mostly exceptional innings from the Pirates' pitching staff, including seven surprising innings from Jeanmar Gomez.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle hinted at a plan last week. Charlie Morton would make two more rehab starts and find a home back in the Pirates' rotation. Looking further down the road, Gerrit Cole will avoid Super Two status in mid-June, when most clubs look to bring up their top prospects. Maybe James McDonald will get healthy.

Whatever the case, Gomez did not seem long for the rotation. Gomez has different plans.

Gomez tied his career-best mark with seven innings at Comerica Park. He did not allow a Tiger to reach second base. He surrendered three singles and a walk. He executed his sinker-slider combo all night, forcing 10 groundouts.

“I had my sinker working,” Gomez said. “I felt good today. I felt good in the bullpen.”

The only element of Tuesday's game more improbable than Gomez's start was that of Detroit's Rick Porcello.

Porcello had largely been a disappointment in his career. He entered Tuesday with a 6.1 strikeout-per-nine innings rate, well below the major league average.

A day after Justin Verlander struck out 13, Porcello struck out a career-high 11. Porcello's fastball ran up to 95 mph, and his curveball and changeup had sharp break.

Porcello got Andrew McCutchen to strike out swinging on a 78 mph curve in the seventh. Russell Martin watched a 92 mph, two-seam fastball paint the corner for a strikeout.

Porcello had excellent command; he didn't issue a single walk. He allowed just three hits and did not allow a runner to reach second base until the eighth.

It became a contest of bullpens.

Justin Wilson relieved Gomez and pitched a scoreless eighth. He worked around a Clint Barmes throwing error that allowed Omar Infante to reach second with one out — the first Tiger to advance to second — by striking out Andy Dirks with a 96 mph fastball.

Wilson hit 97 mph on the stadium radar gun in the ninth-inning against Miguel Cabrera, who grounded out. He gave up a two-out single to Prince Fielder in the ninth, but Victor Martinez flied out to the warning track in left to send the game into extra innings.

Mark Melancon danced around a single and just his second walk of the season in the 10th. Jason Grilli came on for his NL-best 21st save in the 11th, striking out Torii Hunter, Cabrera and Fielder in order.

Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at tsawchik@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.