This time, however, Jordy Mercer had the walk off hit against Jason Grilli to send the 34,220 fans happy with a 3-2 Pirates victory over the Atlanta Braves. This, a day after losing a 13-inning game to the Cincinnati Reds.
“It’s the kind of baseball that we play and we’ve done it time after time,” Pedro Alvarez said. “It’s all about resiliency and taking it one pitch at a time.”
For the seventh consecutive game, it was the opposition that scored first, this time in the second inning.
Pirates starter Francisco Liriano threw 23 pitches in the inning and gave up singles to the first two hitters he faced. With one out he loaded the bases with a walk to Jonny Gomes and then walked in a run with a free pass to Ryan Lavarnway.
Liriano retired the next two batters to get out of the inning.
Braves starter Williams Perez had allowed two hits going into the fifth inning however, after getting an out, he was hit hard near the ankle on a Josh Harrison line drive. Perez was face down on the field and, after talking with a trainer, stayed in the game.
His decision was short lived after walking Neil Walker on four pitches and hitting Andrew McCutchen with a pitch. Manager Fredi Gonzalez and the trainer went out to check on and Perez and removed him from the game.
With left-handed reliever Luis Avilan in the game, Pedro Alvarez placed the Pirates in the lead with a two-run single which scored the two runners Perez left on base.
Alvarez entered the game 3-for-24 against left-handed pitching.
“I don’t think about it as lefty-on-lefty but I think about it as another at-bat and another opportunity to try and come through for the team,” said Alvarez. “Obviously anytime you can capitalize on an opportunity is huge, sometimes you don’t get too many of them.”
The Braves tied it up in the next half inning when Juan Uribe homered with two outs. His homer landed in the center field seats and was his third of the season.
Liriano pitched seven innings allowing the two runs on six hits. He threw 97 pitches, 56 for strikes.
Jared Hughes pitched two shutout innings for the Pirates. Jim Johnson did the same and Nick Masset pitched a shutout frame for the Braves to bring the game to extra innings.
In the 10th, McCutchen greeted Grilli with a double off the wall.
“I’m trying to win a ballgame,” Grilli said. “McCutchen knows my style and I’m trying to get ahead and he was aggressive. I tried to make some pitches and just didn’t.”
Marte was intentionally walked. Mercer’s walk off hit was a double off the Clemente Wall in right field.
“His strength is the side step fastball and that’s what he did here really well, he likes to elevate it belt high,” Mercer said. “The first two pitches he threw sliders and it caught me off guard a little bit. The pitch before I fouled off he just beat me. I was ready for it and I knew he was not going to go away from his strength and being familiar with his pitches, I knew what was coming.”
Mark Melancon earned his first win of the season and is 1-1. Grilli is now 2-3.
“I go at people, tonight was no different than any other,” said Grilli. “Sometimes you’ve got to tip your cap to guys that are doing their jobs too.”
On Saturday, Charlie Morton [5-1 3.97 ERA] will face Julio Tehran [5-3 4.67 ERA]. Morton is 1-2 with a 3.32 ERA in four career starts against his former team. Tehran is 2-0 with a 3.29 ERA in five games [four starts] against the Pirates.
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