The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

April 25, 2013

Red-hot Pirates win again

PHILADELPHIA — The Pittsburgh Pirates have been getting contributions from up and down the lineup to win 10 times in the last 13 games.

On Thursday, it was Gaby Sanchez, who homered and drove in three runs, and Garrett Jones, who hit a go-ahead, two-run double, to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 6-4 comeback victory over the struggling Philadelphia Phillies.

“You don’t try to explain it,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “We just play the game, one at a time. I really like our focus and intensity.

“Everybody knows their role. Even if they don’t start, they stay prepared and ready to go.”

Justin Wilson (2-0) pitched two hitless innings in relief of James McDonald and the Pirates won their third straight. Taking the four-game series gave Pittsburgh its first series win in Philadelphia since April 4-6, 2003.

Ryan Howard went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI and Domonic Brown had a pair of doubles with a RBI for the Phillies, who have lost three straight and eight of 11. The frustration was apparent in the eighth inning when Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was ejected by third-base umpire Dan Iassogna for arguing that Clint Barmes should have been called out for interference.

“We’re just not playing good baseball right now,” Manuel said. “We’re in a bad term, or whatever you want to call it. We’re trying and we have a lot of life, but we’re not getting it done. We’re in a period where we’re not playing good at all.”

Jones, pinch-hitting for Brandon Inge, laced a double off the wall in right with one out in the eighth against reliever Phillippe Aumont (1-3) to put the Pirates ahead, 5-3. After striking out Jose Tabata to start the inning, Aumont hit Barmes with a pitch and allowed consecutive singles to Travis Snider and Marte to load the bases with one out.

Chad Durbin replaced Aumont (1-3) and gave up Sanchez’s sacrifice fly that made it 6-3.

“I think it’s the way we stayed after it against a real good pitcher,” Hurdle said. “We didn’t back away. Our hitters came through.”

That was plenty for the stingy Pirates bullpen, which entered second in the majors with a 1.78 ERA. Watson pitched the last two innings for his first career save while closer Jason Grilli had the day off.

The Phillies scored a pair of runs in the sixth on Howard’s RBI single and Brown’s sacrifice fly before the Pirates tied it in the top of the seventh on two-out RBI singles from Sanchez and Michael McKenry.  

“I think as a team we know that even though it’s the seventh or eighth inning, we can put together some good at-bats,” Sanchez said.

Cliff Lee allowed three runs and 10 hits while striking out seven and walking one. The seventh inning was his undoing.

“That’s where I have to do a good job of keeping the lead,” Lee said, noting that that both RBIs came on broken-bat hits. “I felt like I made some decent pitches. Things went their way that inning.”

He tried to steal second base after reaching on an infield single in the fifth, but was thrown out.

“Basically I had it,” Lee said. “I just got too antsy and took off too early.”

McDonald allowed three runs and five hits with three walks and four strikeouts in five-plus innings.

McDonald, a career .100 hitter (14-for-140), went 2-for-2 with a pair of singles.

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