A day after getting shutout by the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on Friday, the club saw another loss on Saturday night. After battling back in fourth in the see-saw game, the Giants hit a walkoff infield single in the bottom of the 9th inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates giving them their fifth straight loss.
Left-hander Barry Zito was the fifth Cy Young award winner that the Pirates have faced over their first eight games in 2012. After getting off to a cold start to the season, the bats came out swinging early off Zito.
With one out in the first, Andrew McCutchen hit a curveball left over the plate for a base hit into center field. Casey McGehee hit a single that dropped into shallow right field and Rod Barajas drew a walk on four pitches to load the bases. Neil Walker, who has gone 12-for-22 (.545) with the bases loaded in his Major League career, stepped to the plate to face the lefty with just an 0.48 avg over his first seven games this young season.
The lefty Zito left a 1-0 changeup up over the plate allowing Walker to rip a two-run single into left to take an early lead in 1st. It marked the first hit with runners in scoring position for the Pirates since Andrew McCutchen hit the walkoff single in the bottom of the 9th inning on Sunday against the Philadelphia Phillies at PNC Park. They were 0-for-14 with RISP prior to Walker’s at-bat.
During the 2011 season, lefties hit .360 vs. right-hander Charlie Morton, opposed to .220 by right-handers. The Giants sent out an all lefty or switch-hitting starting lineup to face Morton in his first start of the 2012 season. The Pirates elected to send infielder Matt Hague to Triple-A Indianapolis in order to activate Morton from the disabled list to make the start.
Overall Morton allowed three runs on seven hits over 5.0 innings. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out two while throwing 71 pitches, 50 for strikes.
In the first seven games this season, the Pirates have held the lead just once. After plating two runs off Zito in the first, the lead, didn’t hold for very long.
For the second straight inning, Morton gave up a hit to the leadoff batter to start the 2nd. This time, however, Morton wasn’t able to escape the inning without the run scoring. Nate Schierholtz hit a RBI triple into left-center field to plate the first run of the inning. Infielder Brandon Crawford hit a grounder up the right side, Morton didn’t cover the bag at first base allowing Crawford to reach safely. Emmanuel Burriss followed by hitting a RBI single into center field to tie the game at 2.
The Pirates were able to retake the lead in the 5th by capitalizing on the Giants fielding blunders. Third baseman Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Crawford committed back-to-back errors allowing Alex Prelsey to score from first base.
Morton settled in and retired the Giants 10 straight before giving up a one-out stand up triple to Pagan to the gap in right center field. He scored after Sandoval hit an infield single to tie the game at 3.
Righty reliever Chris Resop came in to pitch the bottom of the 9th inning. He gave up back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners. Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle elected to intentionally walk Pagan to load the bases with no outs. Melky Cabrera hit a grounder to short, Clint Barmes throw to home was low and Rod Barajas wasn’t able to pick it for the walkoff win by the Giants.
With the 4-3 loss, the Pirates fall to 2-6 on the season.
- Relief — Tony Watson: IP, H; Juan Cruz: IP, 2BB, K; Jason Grilli: IP, 2K; Chris Resop: 0.0+, 3H, R, BB
- After collecting just one hit over his first seven games, Walker went 2-for-4 with two RBI against the Giants arms for his first multi-hit game of the 2012 season.
- The Pirates combined for just four strikeouts during the game. The club struck out 11 times on Friday, and a total of 38 times over the first four games this roadtrip.