Error in 9th allows Pirates to rally past Astros
It was just like old times. The Houston Astros were back in a National League ballpark Friday, and the Pirates beat them again.
The Pirates rallied in the final two innings, capping it with a bizarre game-winning play — a pop-fly error — in the ninth that sent the Astros to a 5-4 loss.
“A lot of quirky things happened all at once,” Pirates infielder Brandon Inge said.
Starling Marte began the ninth by looping a single to right off righty Edgar Gonzalez (0-1). Travis Snider reached on a fielder's choice. Andrew McCutchen's single moved Snider to third base.
Inge hit a comebacker, but Gonzalez bobbled the ball for an error that loaded the bases.
“I thought (Snider) was going to go home, but, no,” Gonzalez said. “It was like, maybe if I throw to third it will be too late, so I just held onto it.”
With two outs, Russell Martin worked a full count then hit a towering popup to shallow center. Right fielder Jimmy Paredes bumped into second baseman Jake Elmore, and the ball popped out of Elmore's mitt and fell to the ground. Snider scored on the error.
“Our defense pretty much let us down,” Astros manager Bo Porter said. “If you're the outfielder and you see the infielder waving his hands, standing under the ball, you should just let him take it.”
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said the crowd of 29,743 might have rattled or distracted Paredes.
“I think the crowd had as much to do with that win as anything we did,” Hurdle said. “The noise they were making makes it difficult to hear if fielders are trying to communicate.”
However, Paredes insisted he was focused on the ball.
“All I'm doing is trying to catch the ball,” Paredes said. “I'm not thinking about anything else.”
Pedro Alvarez tied the game, 4-4, in the eighth inning with a 462-foot, two-run homer that one-hopped into the Allegheny River. Alvarez's 27th career blast at PNC Park was the first one to reach the water.
“I'm not going to take credit if it bounces in,” Alvarez said, grinning. “That's cheating.”
It was the second night in a row the Pirates plunked a ball in the river. Snider hit a 458-foot homer in Thursday's win over the Brewers.
“I've seen Pedro hit some balls pretty far, and that might be the farthest,” Snider said. “I'm surprised it bounced. That ball was crushed. When we saw it lift off, it was pretty exciting. It's always fun to watch the big fella put one over the stands.”
McCutchen continued his torrid streak — he's batting .339 in May — by going 3 for 5, including a solo homer.
The Pirates went 12-5 against Houston last season when the teams were National League Central rivals. This is the Astros' first year in the American League, and they have scuffled against the beefy, designated hitter-driven lineups.
In his fourth turn as a fill-in starter, Pirates righty Jeanmar Gomez turned in his first clunker.
“I didn't have my best stuff,” Gomez said. “I was working with my sinker. It was my only pitch.”
Gomez lasted only 42⁄3 innings and gave up four runs on five hits, walked two and struck out one. He was done in by a sloppy fifth inning that was marred by two errors on the same play.
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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