Gomez pitches well again in Pirates' 3-2 win
By Rob Biertempfel
Published: Sunday, May 12, 2013, 4:42 p.m.
NEW YORK — A defensive play that required equal parts hustle, skill and flat-out luck enabled the Pirates to hold on Sunday for a 3-2 win against the New York Mets.
Trailing by a run in the eighth inning, the Mets had runners at second and third with two outs when the Pirates turned a shot off the first-base bag into the third out. The play helped the Pirates win their third in a row against the Mets.
Lucas Duda smoked the first pitch from Mark Melancon down the line. First baseman Gaby Sanchez was in position to snag it, but the ball hit the bag and shot upward.
“It looked like it went 100 feet in the air,” Melancon said. “My stomach dropped; my heart dropped.”
Second baseman Brandon Inge realized he had a play and camped under the ball.
“I was screaming at Melancon to get to the base,” Inge said. “I couldn't see him, but I was yelling at him.”
Nearly 29,000 sets of eyes at Citi Field watched the ball tumble toward earth. To Inge, it seemed to move in slow motion, almost as if it floated lazily toward his mitt.
“It's really a weird feeling,” Inge said. “I'm looking at it, going, ‘C'mon ... c'mon ...'”
Finally, Inge made the catch. Melancon kept running toward first base.
“I figured it was going to be a make-or-break play, so I threw a bullet,” Inge said, grinning.
“If there was a radar gun, that throw was probably at about 96 mph,” Melancon said. “I don't even remember seeing the ball. It hit the butt of my glove, rolled up my arm and across my chest. I grabbed it with my bare hand. Just a crazy play.”
Melancon raised both arms to show the ump he'd made the catch. To everyone else, it looked like a celebration — which, in a way, it was.
“In all my years, I've never seen a ball hit a bag and not be a hit — ever,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We finished the play. That's what I'm proudest of.”
The win featured a strong performance by righty Jeanmar Gomez, who went toe-to-toe for five innings with Mets phenom Matt Harvey. A tight calf forced Gomez out of the game after five innings. In the eighth, Pedro Alvarez won it with a two-out, RBI single.
Gomez gave up a solo homer to Duda, then retired the final 10 batters he faced. Gomez was struck on the right calf by David Wright's grounder in the first inning and eventually was unable to continue.
“The first two innings, I didn't feel it,” Gomez said. “In the third, I started feeling it more.”
Clint Barmes led off the third inning with a home run to left field. The shot put Barmes in some elite company. The only other guys to homer off Harvey this year are Matt Kemp and Justin Morneau.
Gomez followed with a fast-sinking liner to shallow center field. Juan Lagares dove, tipped the ball in the air and snagged it as he hit the ground.
Starling Marte walked on four pitches. On a run-and-hit play, shortstop Ruben Tejada broke to cover second base, and Travis Snider slapped a single to left. Marte went to third.
Andrew McCutchen walked. It was the sixth time in seven games the Pirates had the bases loaded with either zero or one out. None of the first five instances led to a big, breakout inning.
Neither did this one. Garrett Jones flew out to right, and Marte scored just ahead of the throw. Jordy Mercer popped out.
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
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