Mercer's run-scoring double in 11th lifts Pirates over Rockies
The Pirates and Colorado Rockies might still be playing if Jared Hughes had not snagged Charlie Blackmon's blistering line drive in the 11th inning Saturday.
“I don't know if he snagged it or it snagged him,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said with a chuckle.
Hughes snared the hot shot, which triggered a rally-killing double play. In the bottom of the inning, Jordy Mercer's walk-off double lifted the Pirates to a 3-2 comeback victory against the Rockies.
Neil Walker snaked a leadoff single up the middle off Rockies reliever Chad Bettis (0-2). Chris Stewart sacrificed Walker to second base. Pedro Alvarez was intentionally walked. Mercer lined a 1-0 fastball into center field to win it.
“In moments like that, you have to slow down, take a deep breath and look for something to drive,” Mercer said. “It's so hard, because everybody's amped up. This is how we are. We grind out wins.”
Hughes (5-2) escaped a jam in the top of the inning. With runners on the corners and one out, Blackmon scorched a liner up the middle. The Pirates were in a shift, so the only thing between the ball and a big patch of center field grass was Hughes' mitt.
“(Blackmon) hit the heck out of it, and it went right into my glove,” Hughes said. “I didn't have any time to react. It just went in there. Even though I watched the replay, and it looked like maybe I moved my glove a little bit, I don't remember that.”
Charlie Culberson had strayed a few feet off the third base bag, so it was not a difficult play to double him up. Hughes tossed the ball to Alvarez, who made the tag.
“The ball was hit so hard, I think it took everyone by surprise,” Hughes said. “It's hard for the baserunner.”
Trailing 2-1 in the eighth, the Pirates loaded the bases with one out. Josh Harrison and Andrew McCutchen walked. Russell Martin singled in the hole between third base and short.
Walker lined the first pitch from reliever Tommy Kahnle into right field. Harrison scored, but McCutchen was thrown out by right fielder Carlos Gonzalez.
“The only way you're going to get McCutchen is to get it there in the air,” Hurdle said.
The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning against left-hander Brett Anderson.
Walker rolled a double down the third base line. Gaby Sanchez, who has started four of the past five games at first base, hit a liner over the head of left fielder Corey Dickerson. The ball one-hopped the wall for a book-rule double, and Walker scored.
However, the Pirates didn't get any more traction against Anderson after Sanchez's RBI double. Anderson set down the final 10 batters he faced, six of them via strikeout.
Anderson went seven innings and notched eight strikeouts, two shy of his career high. He allowed four hits and walked one.
Nolan Arenado led off the seventh inning with a double to the gap in right-center field. Gonzalez then jerked a 2-2 curveball from Morton over the Clemente Wall to give the Rockies a 2-1 edge.
In his career against Morton, Gonzalez is 5 for 12 (.417) with two walks and four RBIs.
“The curveball's been there for me all year. I just didn't execute it there,” Morton said. “Plus, he's a good hitter.”
It was the ninth homer of the season for Gonzalez, who bounced back after striking out in all five of his at-bats in Friday's game.
Morton worked seven innings and yielded five hits. He walked one and struck out three.
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
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