PITTSBURGH, Pa. — After playing over three and a half hours in the rain at PNC Park on Sunday, burning through the bench and most of the bullpen, the Pittsburgh Pirates walked off against the Houston Astros in the 12th inning in a 3-2 win.
“They never give up,” starter A.J. Burnett said. “That’s the thing about these guys, we couldn’t get a hit for eight innings and they wouldn’t give up. That’s our job, keep us in ball games as best we can until they strike. They don’t stop. They don’t quit.”
“These guys they come and work hard every day. They could have a very bad game or a very good game, it don’t matter. They come back to the field the next day ready to work with a good attitude. And that carries over. You saw it today.”
The Pirates walked off in the bottom of the 12th inning. Clint Barmes, who had come into the game to make his first Major League appearance at first base, led off with a double. Josh Harrison followed by connecting for the walk off single to left field in the 3-2 win.
“When you’ve got 25 guys pulling for each other, it makes it that much better. This is a good momentum to take on the road,” Harrison said. “Everybody is willing to do whatever it is for us to be successful.”
“Our offense, it was hard today,” Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle said. “It was hard for both teams today. It was almost like World Cup Soccer. At the end that roar you heard, that’s the winning goal. Good for us.”
“My mentality has always been to win the game in nine-innings. After that, all bets are off. As you saw today by some of the moves that were made. All bets were off. We were trying out first basemen. One of them had actually played there before. Just looking for things to do.”
After trailing the Astros 2-1, the Pirates tied the game at 2 in the bottom of the ninth inning before sending the games to extras.
Lefty Wandy Rodriguez lowered his season ERA to just 1.99 after his eight inning outing, allowing closer Brett Myers to pitch the ninth. Jose Tabata drew a leadoff walk and Neil Walker picked up his second double of the game to snap the skid. The Astros chose to walk McCutchen to load the bases to face Pedro Alvarez, who hit a sac fly to left to tie the game at 2.
“Everybody threw something in,” Hurdle said. “Everybody needed to do something…I do give our guys credit. Just the way they continued to battle. The way they continued to chatter in the dugout. They way they continued to root for one another…Two days ago, I would have given up a small body part to go 5-4 the home stand. Here we are, we went 5-4. We won the last two series. I do see some encouraging signs on the offense…I couldn’t be any more pleased with the pitching.”
Rodriguez gave up one run to the Bucs in the first frame, but after that was dominant.
With one out in the first, Neil Walker ripped a double down the left field line. Andrew McCutchen, who over the last five games has hit .558 with three homers, ripped a RBI double to plate the lone run off Rodriguez. It marked McCutchen’s seventh straight hit off a lefty pitcher.
After that, Rodriguez cruised retiring 22 of his next 24 batters — which included 12 straight. The two base runners came off a walk with two-outs in the first and a leadoff single by Pedro Alvarez in the fourth.
Right-hander A.J. Burnett picked up his second straight quality start of the season. Four of his five outings with Pittsburgh have been at least six innings where he’s allowed two earned runs or less. Burnett has also pitched eight innings in back-to-back outings.
“The way our staff has been throwing all season, it would be nice to score them a few more runs for the starting guys,” Barmes said. “They’ve kept us in the game every night out. It’s been a struggle obviously for us to score for them. It’s nice for us to pick it up towards the end.”
After Burnett allowed just one hit over his previous four scoreless frames, Carlos Lee took an 0-1 curveball to deep center field that knocked off the wall for a leadoff double in the fifth. Burnett struck out Brian Bogusevic before Chris Johnson flew out to right, allowing the runner to advance to third. Jason Castro hit a single into shallow left to tie the game at 1.
“I hung a breaking ball to Carlos,” Burnett said. “He almost put it out of the park. I didn’t feel too great today, but I got by with what I needed to. Trusting who’s behind the plate and going with him. I had some great defense behind me as well. We struck at the right time.”
“My key was to feel my hook, and I didn’t have a good one today, but I kept throwing it.”
Burnett took the mound in the seventh at just 70 pitches. The righty got a pop out before giving up three straight singles. The third by Chris Johnson drove in the go-ahead run. Castro reached base for the third straight bat after hitting a grounder to Burnett, who bobbled the ball during the rainy game to load the bases. Burnett escaped the inning with allowing just the one run to score after a strikeout and a ground out. The right-hander needed 23 pitches to get through the frame.
Overall, Burnett allowed two runs on six hits over eight innings. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out four while throwing 103 pitches, 73 for strikes.
“Another great outing by A.J. And just a fantastic job by everybody out of the bullpen after that,” Hurdle said.