Pirates' Worley tosses 4-hit shutout vs. Giants

Rob Biertempfel
| Tuesday, July 29, 2014, 1:00 a.m.

SAN FRANCISCO — It could be just a coincidence that Gerrit Cole's rehab starts line up with Vance Worley's turn in the Pirates' starting rotation.

Probably not, though. And it likely puts some pressure on Worley to perform well before Cole is ready to come off the disabled list in early August.

Pirates management is watching ... and maybe some scouts from other clubs are, too.

“I don't even worry about it,” Worley said. “All I can do is worry about going out and competing and helping this team win.”

Worley put on a show Monday night. The right-hander tossed his second career complete game as the Pirates cruised to a 5-0 victory against the San Francisco Giants.

It was the Pirates' second complete game of the season and their first shutout by a starter since A.J. Burnett blanked the Chicago Cubs on July 31, 2012.

A native of Sacramento, Worley had about 30 family members and friends in the stands.

“Pretty much everybody I know on the West Coast was out here tonight,” Worley said. “I'm just glad I gave them all something fun to watch.”

Worley's first complete game also came against the Giants. He beat them 7-2 on July 26, 2011, while pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Worley (4-1) gave up four hits, walked one and struck out three Monday. He threw 100 pitches, including 71 strikes. No Giants player reached second base until Hunter Pence's two-out triple in the ninth.

Thanks to a pair of double plays and one runner caught stealing, Worley faced the minimum number of batters through seven innings. He gave credit to catcher Russell Martin's pitch-calling.

“Russell is pretty smart back there,” Worley said. “The less I have to think and the more I can just keep pitching, that's what's going to keep the game flowing.”

It took the Giants 12 batters to hit a ball out of the infield. Buster Posey's fly ball to right fielder Gregory Polanco to end the fourth inning was the first time a Pirates outfielder had to move his feet.

“It didn't bother me at all,” left fielder Josh Harrison said. “It wasn't the kind of boring where we're out there for 15 minutes. It was the kind of boring where we're out there for three minutes then we're going right back in (to the dugout). It's a good feeling.”

Worley's no-hit bid ended in the fifth when Pablo Sandoval led off with a line-drive single to right field. But that led to a fantastic double play by shortstop Jordy Mercer and second baseman Neil Walker.

Michael Morse hit a bouncer up the middle. Mercer snared it and flipped the ball out of his glove to Walker, who leaned backward to grab it. As he was falling, Walker pivoted and fired a strike to first baseman Gaby Sanchez.

“They definitely flashed some leather,” Worley said. “That helped keep my pitch count down.”

An early five-run lead made Worley's job easier. Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner (12-8) lurched through a career-high 42-pitch first inning and yielded four runs on three hits.

“He's one of the elite pitchers in the league,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “But every once in a while, they don't have their ‘A' game.”

As usual, Josh Harrison was the spark plug, drawing a leadoff walk. Mercer singled. Andrew McCutchen walked.

Sanchez delivered a sacrifice fly to deep center field. Walker lined an RBI single.

With Russell Martin at the plate, McCutchen was caught in a rundown. However, Bumgarner's errant throw let McCutchen take third. Martin's run-scoring single and Polanco's sac fly made it 4-0.

With one out in the second, Harrison smacked a solo homer to left. He caught hold of a 2-2 slider and sent it over the left field wall.

“When a pitcher is struggling, you can be really selective and zone up,” Harrison said. “You can really wait for a pitch that you want.”

Mercer followed Harrison's homer with a single. After that the Pirates didn't do much else.

Bumgarner made it through four innings — retiring eight of the final nine batters he faced — and left when his pitch count reached 90. Yusmeiro Petit set down all six batters he faced. Juan Gutierrez got seven straight outs.

Polanco reached on a dribbler in the ninth but was stranded at second base.

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

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