Pirates top Mariners, 4-2, win 6th in a row
By Rob Biertempfel
Published: Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 6:51 p.m.
SEATTLE — When he went to the plate Wednesday with two outs in the ninth inning of a tie game, Pirates outfielder Travis Snider thought he had a chance to be a hero of sorts in his hometown.
And then he noticed the catcher was standing up and signaling for an intentional walk. Seattle Mariners right-handed reliever Yoervis Medina wanted nothing to do with Snider, a left-handed batter.
“You're looking to come up big in a big spot,” said Snider, who makes his offseason home in nearby Kirkland, Wash. “You step into the box, locked in, and then it's kind of like ... ugh! You want that at-bat. You want to have an impact on the game.”
That opportunity fell to Jordy Mercer, who was stuck in a minor batting funk. Mercer grounded a fastball up the middle for a run-scoring single that boosted the Pirates to a 4-2 victory — their sixth consecutive victory.
“It's a testament to the guys on this team,” Snider said. “You walk one of us, it doesn't matter where we are in the order or what the situation is, we've got guys who will step up and get the job done.”
Mercer had just three hits in his previous 17 at-bats, going back to Saturday. But he is a .364 hitter this year with runners in scoring position.
“It seems I've been a better hitter (with runners on) ever since I got to pro ball,” Mercer said. “What's the reason? I couldn't tell you. I guess I just have a knack for getting big hits in big spots.”
Mercer's single drove in Pedro Alvarez to snap a 2-2 tie and sent Snider to third base.
“I've been on the other end of that stick,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “Sometimes you get the matchups you want and you don't get the results you want.”
Snider raced home on a wild pitch to cap the scoring.
Reliever Vin Mazzaro (4-2) pitched two scoreless innings for the win. Mark Melancon, who worked the ninth to give closer Jason Grilli a day's rest, got his second save.
The Pirates went 7-2 on a grueling road trip that stretched from Cincinnati to Los Angeles to Seattle.
“A good trip — a very good trip,” Hurdle said.
With three games remaining in June, the Pirates have 48 wins — a significant accomplishment for a club that managed just 57 victories three seasons ago.
The Pirates faced the Mariners four times this season in a pair of two-game sets separated by seven weeks and 2,500 miles. What were the odds the Pirates would twice have to deal with Mariners ace Felix Hernandez?
“Hey, that's the way the Pirates are rolling this year,” Hurdle said with a grin.
In early May, Hernandez outdueled Pirates right-hander A.J. Burnett in a 2-1 game at PNC Park. This time, Hernandez did not figure in the decision.
He pitched seven innings, racked up 11 strikeouts and left with the score tied, 2-2. Hernandez surrendered Neil Walker's two-run homer — the second baseman's sixth of the season — in the fourth inning.
Pirates starter Jeanmar Gomez was activated off the disabled list before the game after being out since June 3 because of a strained right forearm. To clear a spot on the active roster, reliever Duke Welker was sent back to Triple-A Indianapolis.
Gomez pitched five innings and allowed one unearned run on three hits. He walked two, struck out five and also wound up with a no-decision.
“I remember the last time I pitched here (for Cleveland in 2010), it was a similar situation,” Gomez said. “A day game against Hernandez. Except this time, we won the game.”
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
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