Outfielder Polanco driving force for Pirates in victory over Dodgers
Gregory Polanco stood at the plate facing Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Jamey Wright in the sixth inning with the bases loaded, the count full, two outs, the score tied and the PNC Park crowd of 30,629 getting louder by the second Tuesday night.
Unfazed, Polanco drove the ball to left field. Russell Martin and Ike Davis scored, and the Pirates took the lead.
Combined with an earlier home run, it was a big night for the Pirates young right fielder, who has struggled to gain his footing during his second month in the big leagues but was crucial in a 12-7 win that evened the series.
“I was just trying to put the ball in play and just stay with my approach,” Polanco said. “I was trying not to do too much.”
Polanco hit a solo homer to right field in the third inning, adding to solo shots by Neil Walker and Davis off starter Josh Beckett in the second.
The Dodgers right-hander had just come off the disabled list. Pitching with a torn labrum and two cysts in his hip, he gave up four runs and was finished after 32⁄3 innings.
Vance Worley (3-1) surrendered just one earned run but four total.
Martin and Davis singled off left-hander Paul Maholm (1-5) to lead off the sixth. Wright replaced Maholm, and Josh Harrison moved his teammates into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt.
Jordy Mercer struck out, but Wright walked pinch hitter Gaby Sanchez to load the bases for Polanco, who sat out Monday's game and was hitless in his last 12 at-bats before the home run.
“It was a good night for him and a number of guys in the lineup,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “It was good to see. Some better passes at the ball, some better balance at the plate. It paid off for him.”
After Polanco's single, Travis Snider singled in another run. Wright hit Andrew McCutchen with a pitch, and Polanco scored on a wild pitch to make it 8-4.
The game got heated in the bottom of the seventh after lefty reliever Justin Wilson started the inning by hitting Justin Turner, the first batter he faced.
Turner took several steps toward the mound. Wilson got tossed. Hurdle went on the field to argue and, after an animated discussion, also was ejected.
“I think the umpire's job is to judge intent. There's a mound visit with McCutchen at the plate and a base open and the ball's thrown upper body, hits him in the back shoulder and there was no intent judged on that and he goes to first base,” Hurdle said. “Wilson's trying to pitch hard in. He always pitches hard in. They judged it was intentional and just threw him out.”
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly offered a different take.
“I think we all understand what happened there,” he said. “It was not a big deal. The only guy who didn't handle it was the home plate umpire. He could've let that go and given warnings, and it would've been over.”
Jared Hughes replaced Wilson and gave up a two-run homer to Adrian Gonzalez to make it 8-6.
The Dodgers cut the Pirates' lead to 8-7 in the eighth. Tony Watson gave up a pinch-hit home run to Scott Van Slyke.
Dodgers reliever Chris Perez walked four in a row to start the eighth. He was replaced by Brandon League, who gave up a two-run single to Martin and an RBI single to Davis.
Pedro Alvarez exited the game with left knee discomfort after doubling in the fourth inning. He was replaced at third by Harrison.
Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.
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