Pirates rally, make it two straight over Jays
PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Pirates came up with a second straight comeback win.
“You’ve got to believe, though. Can you have faith?” said Jordy Mercer, whose pinch-hit double in the seventh inning tied the score.
The next inning Neil Walker hit a two-run double to cap the comeback from a five-run deficit as Pittsburgh beat the Toronto Blue Jays 8-6 on Saturday night.
The Pirates erased a 5-3, ninth-inning deficit in a win over the Blue Jays on Friday and clawed back from deficits of 5-0 in the fourth a 6-2 in the seventh Saturday.
Aaron Loup relieved R.A. Dickey after Clint Barmes’ leadoff double in the seventh, and the Pirates tied the score on Josh Harrison’s RBI double, Pedro Alvarez’s run-scoring groundout and Mercer’s two-run double.
“It just blew up on us,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “I can’t tell you anything more than that.”
The game-tying hit was a longtime coming for Mercer, who entered the game with a .151 batting average and hadn’t driven in a run since April 15.
“I know everybody here has my back so I don’t think it’s really a confidence issue,” Mercer said. “I think getting a hit for the team was bigger than anything.”
One inning later, Ike Davis reached on a one-out infield single against Todd Redmond (0-3), Harrison singled and Walker hit a drive off the top of the wall in center field.
“Tonight was one of the nights we didn’t play real great defense, we didn’t pitch real well, but somehow we found a way to win in the end,” Walker said. “It doesn’t have to be pretty.”
The Pirates could have boosted their lead in the ninth, but Starling Marte lined out to first against Chad Jenkins with the bases loaded.
Bryan Morris (3-0) pitched a perfect eighth, and Mark Melancon earned his first save of the season in place of injured closer Jason Grilli, retiring Colby Ramus on a game-ending groundout with two on.
Pittsburgh, which overcame four errors, won consecutive games for the first time since beating St. Louis and the Chicago Cubs on April 6 and 8.
Toronto’s Jose Bautista hit his ninth homer of the year, extended his hitting streak to a career-high 13 games. He set a Blue Jays record by reaching base in a 30th consecutive game.
“I don’t think that we’re going to start pointing fingers at anybody just because we’ve lost a couple games in a particular fashion,” Bautista said.
Dickey allowed three runs, five hits and four walks, lowering his ERA to 5.01.
“He’s a quality pitcher, an All-Star, he’s won 20 games in the big leagues and he was on tonight,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “So as soon as he’s out, it’s just better. It’s no knock against anybody else, it’s just going to be different.”
Pirates starter Francisco Liriano gave up five runs — four earned — six hits and three walks in 3 2-3 innings, the second straight start he failed to reach the fourth.
“I was trying to throw my sinker down and away and just missed my spots,” Liriano said.
Toronto built its early lead on Jose Reyes’ RBI double in the third and a four-run fourth that included Brett Lawrie’s run-scoring double over Marte in left, Rasmus’ RBI single, Steve Tolleson’s run-scoring, double-play grounder and a bases-loaded walk to Melky Cabrera.
Pittsburgh’s comeback began in the fourth when Dickey threw a run-scoring wild pitch, and Barmes hit an RBI groundout.
“We’re a little bit shell-shocked right now,” Gibbons said. “But we’ve got to turn it around. Heck, it’s the start of May.”
NOTES: The Blue Jays removed RHP Sergio Santos from his role as interim closer after he blew three of his past four save opportunities. Gibbons said Toronto will use a closer-by-committee approach until Casey Janssen (oblique) returns from the DL. ... After optioning RHP Brandon Cumpton to the minor leagues Saturday, the Pirates have an open spot in their rotation Monday when they start a three-game set against San Francisco. LHP Wandy Rodriguez (right knee) could return from the DL. ... Toronto RHP Dustin McGowan (1-1, 5.87) is scheduled to pitch Sunday against Pittsburgh RHP Edinson Volquez (1-2, 3.21).
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