Garrett Jones waited out 1,038 minor league games for a chance to succeed in the majors. Waiting for the 14th inning to come through again for Pittsburgh was no big deal.
Jones’ homered in the first and last innings, giving him five homers in four games, and the Pirates ended a four-game losing streak by beating the San Francisco Giants 2-1 in 14 innings on Friday night.
The Pirates hadn’t scored since Jones’ two-out homer in the first off Tim Lincecum until the 28-year-old rookie outfielder, who has spent much of his career in Minnesota’s farm system, drove Bob Howry‘s second pitch of the 14th over the right-field stands. Jones has seven homers, 10 extra-base hits in 12 games and a .313 average since being called up from the minors.
“I know a lot of people are waiting for him to fail, but I think we have something here,” Pirates manager John Russell said. “We liked what we saw of him in spring training and he’s doing the same things. He’s seeing the ball well and he has big-time power.”
Jones, whose only previous shot at the majors was a 31-game callup for the Twins in 2007, has been homering mostly on fastballs but hit a changeup from Howry for the game-winner.
“I was trying to stay on top of the fastball and adjust to the breaking ball and it was a changeup down and in,” Jones said. “It hung up enough to get the sweet part of the bat on it.”
Howry said the ball “didn’t dive – it was down, but it was right in his wheelhouse, I guess.”
He was guessing because neither Howry (0-5) nor Lincecum had much of a scouting report on Jones, who had 12 homers in 72 games for Triple-A Indianapolis before joining the Pirates on June 30.
“I didn’t know very much about him and it was the first time I’ve got to see him,” Lincecum said. “He’s obviously got a hell of a swing.”
Evan Meek (1-0) pitched the 14th for his first major league victory in 38 appearances and only the fourth victory by Pittsburgh in 15 games. Six Pirates relievers held the Giants to four hits over six innings.
Lincecum, the NL All-Star starter three nights before, allowed four hits in seven innings but no more runs after Jones’ drive in the first. Lincecum, who has allowed scoring in only two of his last 37 innings, struck out 10 and walked one over seven innings, the fifth time this season he’s struck out at least 10.
“We couldn’t do much against him,” Jones said. “He throws, what (35) pitches in the All-Star game and comes here and throws 118? He has an unbelievable arm. He’s going to be an amazing pitcher for years to come.”
Lincecum, who faced the Pirates for only the second time in his career, is 8-0 with a 1.89 ERA in 12 night games but didn’t win for the first time in five starts overall.
“I had a tough time finding my rhythm, but I found it better as the game went on, especially in later innings,” Lincecum said.
Lincecum doesn’t get outpitched very often, but it almost happened against Paul Maholm – at least until two misplays by the Pirates allowed the Giants to tie it at 1 after they were held to Juan Uribe‘s single in the second over the first six innings.
Randy Winn and Pablo Sandoval singled to start the seventh before Maholm got the next two batters. Winn stole third, a play that proved big when Maholm threw a pitch into the dirt with Uribe batting. Catcher Ryan Doumit‘s throw to second was ahead of the runner, but second baseman Freddy Sanchez couldn’t hold it – drawing an error – as Winn scored.
The Pirates had a chance to retake the lead in their half of the seventh, but right fielder Winn threw out Brandon Moss at the plate on Jack Wilson‘s two-out single. After that, only one runner for either team advanced as far as third until Jones’ second homer.
Maholm limited the Giants to the unearned run and four hits over eight innings, striking out seven and walking none. The left-hander has a 2.52 ERA in eight starts at home.
NL All-Star Matt Cain will make his scheduled start Sunday despite being struck near the right elbow during a line drive last Saturday, a mishap that kept him out of the All-Star game. … The start was delayed 45 minutes by rain. … Giants LHP Jeremy Affeldt pitched 1 1-3 innings, extending his scoreless streak to 23 innings. … The Giants are 4-4 in extra innings, 1-4 on the road, and the Pirates are 2-3. … The Giants, losing their longest game of the season, fell to 18-25 on the road. The Pirates lost to the Braves 7-6 in 15 innings on June 8.