The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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May 1, 2014

Orioles score win over Pirates in opener

BALTIMORE — The Pittsburgh Pirates didn’t go down in order once. They got nine hits, walked three times and twice were hit by pitches.

All of that added up to exactly one run – and another frustrating loss.

Steve Pearce had three hits and two RBIs in his return to the Orioles, and Baltimore rolled to a 5-1 victory Thursday in the opening game of a doubleheader.

The second game did not end in time to be included in this edition of The Tribune-Democrat.

Pedro Alvarez had two hits and an RBI for the Pirates, who stranded 13 and went 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position.

Pittsburgh has lost 14 of 18 after a 6-3 start, and the defeat ended the team’s nine-game road winning streak in interleague play.

“In all but two innings we had runners in scoring position and couldn’t bust the big hit,” manager Clint Hurdle said.

Bud Norris (2-2) yielded seven hits, walked one and hit two batters in 51/3 innings for Baltimore. But he only gave up one run.

“We had Norris on the ropes for four of the first five innings and actually again in the sixth,” Hurdle noted.

“Couldn’t push through on him.”

Nick Markakis homered and No. 9 hitter Ryan Flaherty drove in two runs for the Orioles. Flaherty batted directly ahead of Pearce, who tied a career high for hits.

Pearce was designated for assignment by Baltimore on April 22 and released five days later.

After turning down an offer from Toronto, the first baseman was re-signed Monday after Chris Davis went on the 15-day disabled list.

He singled in the third, fifth and sixth innings against Pirates starter Charlie Morton (0-4).

“I kept grooving fast balls to Steve Pearce and he kept putting good swings on them,” Morton lamented.

The single-admission doubleheader followed consecutive rainouts. The rain lingered long enough to delay the start of the fifth inning by 21 minutes.

Trailing 1-0 when the stoppage occurred, Baltimore regrouped during the break and sent nine batters to the plate in a three-run fifth. After a single, walk and an error loaded the bases, Pearce hit an RBI single and Flaherty grounded an opposite-field, two-run single.

“The ground ball to Flaherty to left field, the pitch was about a foot-and-a-half off the plate at his ankles,” Morton said.

Pittsburgh got the first two runners on in the sixth and chased Norris, but Ryan Webb retired Tony Sanchez and Jordy Mercer.

Pearce singled in a run in the sixth, and Markakis hit his first homer of the season in the seventh for a 5-1 lead.

Tommy Hunter got the last out with runners on second and third for his seventh save.

Morton started well but came unhinged after the rain delay and lost his fourth consecutive start. The right-hander permitted four runs, two earned, and seven hits in 51/3 innings.

The Pirates got runners on second and third with two outs in the first inning before Norris struck out Gaby Sanchez.

Pittsburgh stranded a runner in scoring position in the second, and was poised to waste Jose Tabala’s leadoff triple in the third before Alvarez delivered a two-out RBI single.

The Pirates mounted several threats the rest of the way, none of which produced a run. Pinch-hitter Travis Snider hit a routine grounder in the eighth with runners at second and third and two outs.

Notes: Baltimore won a challenge in the second inning. After umpires ruled Tony Sanchez was hit in the hand by a pitch, the call was overturned when a replay showed he fouled the ball off the knob of the bat. ... The last time Pittsburgh played a doubleheader on the road was in July 2011, at Washington. ... Pirates LHP Wandy Rodriguez (right knee inflammation) allowed three runs and four hits over 31/3 innings in a rehabilitation assignment for Double-A Altoona against Erie. “Wait and see how he feels tomorrow. Last time, he flared up the day after,” Hurdle said. ... Baltimore’s rainout against Tampa Bay on April 15 was rescheduled as part of a split doubleheader on June 27. ... Baltimore improved to 1-6 at home when the opposition scores first.

 

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