Derek Shelton laughed at the suggestion, that the perfect antidote for the Pittsburgh Pirates after getting swept by the team with the worst record in baseball was to play the team with the game’s best record.
“I don’t know if you ever welcome a challenge of playing the team with the best record in the National League,” Shelton said before Friday’s game, “but we played well against the Mets then did not play well in Arizona so I’m looking forward to our guys bouncing back.”
Where the Pittsburgh Pirates found creative ways to lose a three-game series to the Arizona Diamondbacks, they got an unexpected gift from the San Francisco Giants to rally for a victory.
The Pirates scored three runs without getting a hit in the seventh hit to break open a tied game, thanks to a Giants gaffe that allowed two runners to score on their way to a 6-4 win Friday night at Oracle Park.
The win snapped a four-game losing streak by the Pirates (37-60), as Chad Kuhl tied a career-best with eight strikeouts while allowing three runs on six hits and one walk on 94 pitches over 5 1/3 innings.
After winning three of four over the Los Angeles Dodgers for a three-game lead in the NL West, the Giants (61-36) rallied from a 3-0 deficit only to blow it.
In the three-run seventh, Stallings drew a leadoff walk and Newman reached on an infield single when the Giants failed to force Stallings out at second. Pinch hitter Wilmer Difo showed bunt but drew a walk to load the bases. Dominic Leone (2-1) then walked Adam Frazier for the go-ahead run, making it 4-3.
Jarlin Garcia replaced Leone and struck out Reynolds for the second out, then got Ben Gamel to ground to first for what should have been an inning-ending play. Instead, Lamont Wade Jr. bobbled the ball for an error that allowed Difo and Frazier to score for a 6-3 lead.
The Pirates took a 1-0 lead when Ben Gamel drew a leadoff walk in the second inning, then scored on Gregory Polanco’s triple to the right field corner. Cueto recovered to strike out Jacob Stallings and Kevin Newman to strand Polanco at third.
After Ke’Bryan Hayes hit a one-out single in the third inning, Cueto almost picked him off at first. The Giants challenged but a video review upheld the safe call by first base umpire Laz Diaz. Bryan Reynolds drilled a 3-2 slider 413 feet to right for a two-run home run, his 18th of the season, to give the Pirates a 3-0 lead.
Chad Kuhl struck out six of the first seven batters he faced through the first two innings, all on sliders. Kuhl escaped trouble in the first inning, after Buster Posey doubled, then took third on a wild pitch before Kuhl got Alex Dickerson swinging. Kuhl struck out the side in the second, but it was at the expense of a pitch count that reached 39 after two innings.
That only increased in an eight-pitch at bat to lead off the third, which ended with Steven Duggar driving a slider 372 feet into McCovey’s Cove for his seventh home run to cut it to 3-1. Kuhl followed by walking Cueto – the fifth time he walked the opposing pitcher this season – and then allowed him to steal second base. Kuhl tied his career high with eight strikeouts, through the first three innings, but wouldn’t whiff another batter through the next three.
The Giants were sitting on the slider in the sixth, when Posey doubled off the right-field wall and Dickerson followed with his 10th homer, a 396-foot shot to right that tied the game at 3-3.
Chris Stratton (3-0) replaced Kuhl and finished off the sixth. After failing to get a hit against Clay Holmes and David Bednar, the Giants rallied in the ninth against Richard Rodriguez when pinch hitter Darin Ruf drew a two-out walk and scored on Wade’s triple to make it 6-4. But Rodriguez got Mike Yastrzemski on an outside fastball for a called third strike to end the game for his 14th save.