PITTSBURGH (AP) — Travis Snider’s pinch-hit double in the eighth scored Neil Walker to spark the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 4-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Friday night.
Walker trotted home when Colorado right fielder Carlos Gonzalez couldn’t track down Snider’s sinking line drive off reliever Matt Belisle (2-5). All-Star Josh Harrison added a sacrifice fly one batter later.
Tony Watson (6-1) picked up the win with a scoreless eighth inning. Mark Melancon got Troy Tulowitzki, representing the tying run, to ground out to third to end it for his 17th save.
Starling Marte tripled and drove in two runs before leaving in the eighth an inning after taking a fastball to the head.
Charlie Culberson and Corey Dickerson had two hits apiece for the Rockies but Colorado’s bullpen couldn’t give starter Jorge De La Rosa his fifth consecutive victory. The Rockies left 11 runners on base while losing their third straight.
Snider’s 11th pinch hit of the season tied him for the most in the majors and allowed the Pirates to avoid a sloppy start to the second half. Pittsburgh won despite committing three errors.
Walker singled to lead off the bottom of the eighth and moved to third on Gaby Sanchez’s single to center. Snider followed with a hard drive that Gonzalez couldn’t track down, the low point on a night the slugger also struck out five times.
Pittsburgh starter Francisco Liriano worked five innings as he tries to bounce back from a difficult first half in which he managed just one win in 15 starts and spent a month on the disabled list with a back injury. The left-hander returned in four shaky innings last weekend against Cincinnati, but manager Clint Hurdle threw Liriano right back out there on Friday hoping to get him into a comfortable rhythm.
The early signs were encouraging. Liriano labored through the first two innings — needing 27 pitches to get out of bases-loaded jam in the first — but got better as the game wore on. Colorado managed only an RBI fielder’s choice by Dickerson in the second against him as he retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced.
Liriano allowed one run on three hits, walking three and striking out eight.
De La Rosa was just as effective while keeping the Pirates off balance for six innings. Poor decision making by Marte helped. The left fielder tripled to left with two outs in the fifth, scoring Polanco all the way from first. Marte then ran through third baseman Nick Leyva’s stop sign and was out by a good 15 feet trying for an inside the park homer.
Colorado went back in front in the seventh when a Pedro Alvarez throwing error with two outs snowballed into an RBI-single by Drew Stubbs. Pittsburgh evened it in the seventh after loading the bases off Rex Brothers. Adam Ottavino came in and got ahead of Marte 0-2 before hitting the outfielder in the helmet with a 93 mph fastball.
Marte sat on the ground for several minutes before gingerly walking to first. He remained in the game in the top of the eighth before being replaced in the ninth.
NOTES: Pittsburgh RHP Gerrit Cole threw 30 pitches on Thursday without incident as he recovers from a sore back. Cole was eligible to come off the disabled list on Friday but the team remains uncertain on when he will return. ... Colorado RHP Tyler Chatwood will have undergo reconstructive elbow surgery for the second time in his career. Chatwood hasn’t pitched since going on the 60-day disabled list on April 30. The 24-year-old is 20-22 with a 4.34 ERA in 70 major league games. He is expected to miss 12-18 months. ... The series continues on Saturday when Pittsburgh’s Charlie Morton (5-9, 3.32 ERA) faces Colorado’s Brett Anderson (0-3, 4.95).