Kevin Newman lifts Pirates over Athletics in 7th-inning rally
Kevin Newman began Saturday as a newly activated major leaguer in a new role. By the end of it, he was back at his long-familiar position and in a starring role of a Pittsburgh Pirates win.
Newman’s seventh-inning, two-run triple into the right-field corner capped a rally from an early three-run deficit and helped lift the Pirates to a 6-4 win against the Oakland Athletics.
Newman scored six pitches later, and Josh Bell’s two home runs earlier in the game provided the other offense for the Pirates, who have won three of four since snapping an eight-game losing streak.
“I like to be the guy who goes up there in that situation. I want that. I want to come through for my teammates,” said Newman, who had a walk-off double in an April 6 win. “So to get a couple of those early is awesome.”
Newman had been on the injured list since April 9 because of a finger laceration. During a rehabilitation stint with Triple-A Indianapolis, he played half of his eight games at shortstop and half in the outfield. His pro and college career before then consisted of middle-infield work — almost entirely at shortstop.
He entered Saturday’s game as a pinch-runner in the sixth inning and stayed in the game at shortstop.
“Felt good out there,” said Newman, who handled three ground balls the final three innings. “Just good to get out there. It’d been a little, but now to to get back out there and get some ground balls, get a hit and get a win for the team is awesome.”
Bell hit his seventh and eighth homers of the season leading off the second and with Starling Marte aboard in the third. The Pirates first baseman and cleanup hitter was stuck on eight home runs last season through Sept. 6.
But that wasn’t going to be enough to win until the rally in the seventh that began with a one-out double by Gregory Polanco followed by an intentional walk of Bell. After Bryan Reynolds hit into a force play, Newman went down to slap a J.B. Wendelken 96-mph four-seamer to the opposite field. It bounced inside the foul line and hit the short fencing in the right-field corner.
“Everybody was trying to bend with it to make sure it didn’t bounce out,” manager Clint Hurdle said, referring to a possible ground-rule double that would have kept the go-ahead run at third. “It stayed in play (and with) some aggressive baserunning we got on top. Real good night for Newman and for the Bucs.”
Polanco easily scored, and Reynolds slid in under the relay throw from Kendrys Morales to give the Pirates a 5-4 lead.
Michael Feliz (1-0) was credited with his second win over two seasons with the Pirates after he struck out two and walked one in retiring the side in the seventh.
Feliz relieved Keone Kela, who left after facing one batter (a double, the first major league hit by Skye Bolt) because of right shoulder discomfort.
Kyle Crick threw a perfect eighth, and Felipe Vazquez earned his ninth save by allowing only a two-out infield single in the ninth. Vazquez struck out pinch-hitter Chad Pinder, who represented the tying run, to end the game.
Pirates starter Trevor Williams pitched well other than a 12-pitch span over five hitters during the first inning.
“I’m glad I was able to minimize there,” Williams said. “I made it through six (innings) and was really happy.”
Williams allowed five of the eight hits and three of the four runs he was charged with Saturday during that slice of the game.
Other than those five hitters — three singles, a double and a triple — Williams’ line would have been six innings, three hits, one run and five strikeouts.
Still, it was enough on a night the offense supported him, which was a departure from his previous nine home starts when the Pirates combined for 15 runs.
“Trevor just stayed the mindset that you have got to take care of the next hitter,” Hurdle said. “You’ve got to take care of the next hitter. And he was able to do that.
“I thought it was a really strong performance from him keeping us in the game.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .