PITTSBURGH (AP) Pedro Florimon flubbed a simple bunt in the 13th that would have put the Pittsburgh Pirates in position to win. Two innings later, the light-hitting backup shortstop decided to take a more decisive approach and produced the first walkoff hit of his baseball life.
Florimon tripled home Francisco Cervelli with two outs in the bottom of the 15th to lift the Pirates to a 9-8 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night.
Cervelli singled off Keith Hessler (0-1) for his fourth hit and Florimon hit a high flyball to right field that clanged off the wall. Cervelli had little trouble beating the throw to the plate with a tumbling slide, ending Pittsburgh’s longest game of the season and earning Florimon a creampie to the face from teammate A.J. Burnett.
”I think both teams felt they were due,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. ”You’ve just got to keep playing. Sometimes when things get late, funny things happen.”
Like, say, a guy hitting .063 playing the role of hero, though not without some missteps. Florimon failed to get down a bunt in the 13th that would have moved Cervelli to scoring position.
”I was a little (ticked) at myself because of that bunt but I just focused on the game and tried the next at bat to put a good swing, make something happen to win the game,” Florimon said.
Hessler, a rookie who picked up the first hit of his career in the top of the 15th only to get thrown out trying to stretch it to a double, retired the first five batters he faced before Florimon ended the 5 hour, 11 minute marathon.
”Unfortunately it went just far enough and off the wall where he was able to score from first on it,” Hessler said. ”Two outs, you know he’s running on contact.”
Joe Blanton (5-2) pitched three innings of scoreless relief for the Pirates. Starling Marte and Jung Ho Kang homered for Pittsburgh, which won despite blowing a late five-run lead.
Paul Goldschmidt drove in two runs and tied the game off Pittsburgh closer Mark Melancon in the ninth. Aaron Hill had three hits for Arizona, which left 11 runners on base.
”It just got into the extra innings and nothing really materialized for us,” Arizona manager Chip Hale said.
Melancon’s club-record consecutive save streak ended at 35 with more than a little help from his defense. He entered with a two-run lead in the ninth but the Diamondbacks rallied to tie it. Ender Inciarte hit a grounder that rolled under Kang’s glove at third base to start the inning. Hill singled two batters later and Goldschmidt hit a hard grounder right at first baseman Sean Rodriguez. The ball deflected off Rodriguez and into the right-field corner, allowing two runners to score for Melancon’s first blown save since April 21.
Pittsburgh had a chance to win it in the ninth. Andrew McCutchen led off with a single and was on second when Kang lined a shot to Goldschmidt’s left at first. The burly first baseman lunged for the ball and fired to second to double up McCutchen, leading the normally even keeled Kang to throw his batting helmet in the dugout in disgust, sending a tub of bubble gum flying.
Pittsburgh improved to 10-0 in Francisco Liriano’s last 10 starts, though the left-hander was long gone by the time Cervelli sprinted across the plate.
Liriano’s run hasn’t exactly been dominant. He began the night with an ERA of 7.00 this month, a number that appeared to be heading north after he gave up three consecutive singles and a walk to start the game, yielding three runs during Arizona’s first trip through the order.
Liriano rediscovered his command after that, retiring 13 straight at one point, giving the Pirates time to get to Arizona starter Chase Anderson. Marte led off the third with a home run to the Arizona bullpen in center, his first in 39 games, to put Pittsburgh in front 4-3. The lead grew to 8-3 after Kang’s 10th homer in the seventh before Arizona rallied.
Burnett is making small strides while he works his way back from a strained flexor tendon in his right (throwing) elbow. The 38-year-old Burnett will begin working off an incline in front of the pitcher’s mound as he attempts to regain strength.
Arizona’s Robbie Ray (3-8, 3.29 ERA) looks for his first victory in nearly six weeks on Wednesday when the teams wrap up the three-game series. Ray has dropped four straight decisions since beating Texas on July 7 even though he hasn’t allowed more than four earned runs in any of his last six starts.
J.A. Happ makes his third start for Pittsburgh since arriving from a trade with Seattle. Happ is 0-1 with a 4.66 ERA with the Pirates and 4-7 with a 4.64 ERA on the season.
Follow Will Graves at www.twitter.com/WillGravesAP