Snider's pinch-hit double lifts Pirates over Rockies

Pirates left fielder Starling Marte is hit in the head by a pitch during the seventh inning Friday, July 18, 2014, at PNC Park.
Pirates left fielder Starling Marte is hit in the head by a pitch during the seventh inning Friday, July 18, 2014, at PNC Park.
Photo by Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Rob Biertempfel
| Friday, July 18, 2014, 11:09 p.m.

Over his first six seasons in the majors, Travis Snider collected a total of 15 pinch hits. This year, however, it is becoming his forte.

On Friday, Snider came off the bench in the eighth inning to deliver a go-ahead double that boosted the Pirates past the Colorado Rockies, 4-2.

“One of the things we talk about with all our pinch hitters is, you don't need to carry the weight of anything up there,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “You have the chance to do good. There's no lose, no downside. He has gotten to a good place with it this year.”

Neil Walker started the winning rally with a single off Matt Belisle (2-5). Gaby Sanchez singled to center field, and Walker alertly hustled to third base.

On a 2-2 pitch, Snider lined an RBI double to right to give the Pirates a 3-2 lead, their first of the game. It was Snider's 11th pinch hit, tying him with Miami's Reed Johnson and Colorado's Brandon Barnes for the National League lead.

“It's the way you prepare, whether it's in (batting) practice or during the game when you don't see us on the bench,” Snider said. “We're not just hanging out, eating sunflower seeds the whole game. Sometimes, we're actually doing something.”

There was a scare in the seventh inning when Starling Marte was struck in the head by a 93 mph fastball.

With the bases loaded and one out, Marte fell behind 0-2 against right-handed reliever Adam Ottovino. The next pitch caught Marte on the side of his batting helmet.

Marte stayed down for a couple of minutes and was checked out on the field by an athletic trainer. Ottovino looked on a few feet away, occasionally covering his face with his glove.

“It was a bad pitch. I wish it didn't happen,” Ottovino said. “I wanted to throw a fastball up, not in-and-up like that. Obviously, I didn't execute it. I just hope he's all right.”

Finally, Marte stood up and made his way to first base. Jordy Mercer scored on the play, tying the game at 2-2.

Snider replaced Marte in left field in the ninth. After the game, Marte nodded when asked if he was OK, but declined to comment on the incident.

Starter Francisco Liriano needed 27 pitches to get through the first inning, although the Rockies failed to score. Poor infield defense stung Liriano in the second.

With one out, Charlie Culberson dropped a single into right field. DJ LeMahieu reached on a fielding error by shortstop Mercer.

Jorge De La Rosa bunted toward third base. Liriano didn't get to the ball so Pedro Alvarez, who initially took a step backward, had to field it. Alvarez double-clutched but did not throw, and everyone was safe.

Corey Dickerson hit a bouncer to Mercer, who muffed it. Mercer recovered in time to force De La Rosa at second but had no chance for a double play. Culberson scored.

Liriano's pitch count had swelled to 48 through two innings. But after Dickerson's fielder's choice, Liriano retired 10 of the final 11 batters he faced — including seven via strikeouts.

“To stay composed after those first two innings, with the number of pitches and they've got only one run, I felt good for Frankie,” Hurdle said. “The last three innings, he did very, very professional work out there.”

The Pirates tied the game in the fifth. With two outs, Gregory Polanco dribbled an infield single past De La Rosa. Marte followed with a shot down the third-base line.

The ball got past left fielder Dickerson and rolled into the corner. Polanco scored on the triple, but Marte was thrown out at the plate.

Jared Hughes relieved Liriano to start the sixth and gave up an unearned, go-ahead run. With two outs, Wilin Rosario reached on Alvarez's high, off-line throw to first base. Back-to-back singles by Culberson and LeMahieu scored Rosario.

Alvarez has a major league-high 21 errors, all but one of them on throws.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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