Watson gives up go-ahead homer in Pirates loss
PITTSBURGH (AP) It's been a rough June so far for Tony Watson.
After earning his first loss of the season in Miami on Wednesday, Watson gave up four runs in his next appearance on Saturday. On Sunday, he was touched for two more runs and took the loss in his team's 5-4 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Angels.
Watson (1-2), the Pirates usually reliable set-up man, has now allowed seven runs in his last 2 1/3 innings and he failed to protect the lead for Pirates starter Gerrit Cole, who allowed three runs over 6 2/3 innings.
The reliever gave up a two-run homer to Albert Pujols in the eighth that gave the Angels the lead.
(It was an) up and in fastball,'' Watson said of the pitch that landed in the left-field bleachers. ''It was thrown well. He's been around for a long time. He had one thing on his mind that at-bat, and that was to give his team the lead.''
It was Pujols' 30th career home run at PNC Park, the most of any road ballpark for the Angels' first basemen. Pujols also had a sacrifice fly in the first inning to give him three RBIs in the game.
After Pujols' sacrifice fly scored Yunel Escobar in the first, Cole settled in allowed just one hit over the next five innings.
''He competed well again with his fastball, both sides of the plate,'' Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. ''(He) mixed in the slider, curveball in different sequences. At times it played really well for him.''
Cole ran into trouble in the seventh, when C.J. Cron and Gregorio Petit hit back-to-back RBI doubles, chasing the Pirates' ace. Marte, playing center field in place of usual starter Andrew McCutchen, who was given the day off, made a diving catch on an Escobar line drive to end the threat. Cole credited the defense's play on multiple occasions.
''We were sharp all game,'' he said. ''I thought the guys did an excellent job. Joyce, fantastic. Even Marte almost had that ball on the wall but all of a sudden the wind picked up and it blew over his head. The guys made great plays in the infield.''
Former Pirates reliever Deolis Guerra (1-0) struck out three over 1 2/3 innings and picked up his first win with the Angels. In the ninth inning, the Pirates loaded the bases against closer Huston Street, but Sean Rodriguez grounded into a game-ending double play.
An ineffective outing from Los Angeles starting pitcher Hector Santiago opened the door for the Pirates' offense. They took advantage of five walks and a hit batsman to take an early lead. Of the 90 pitches thrown by Santiago, just 55 of them were strikes.
Starling Marte plated Jordy Mercer with an RBI single in the first. With the bases loaded in the second, Santiago walked Gregory Polanco and hit Jung Ho Kang, bringing in a pair of runs.
Los Angeles shortstop Andrelton Simmons is expected to begin a minor-league rehab assignment on Monday and could be active as soon as the weekend. Simmons, who had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his thumb, has been out of the Angels' lineup since May 9.
Angels relief pitcher Joe Smith was unavailable with a hamstring injury. He is considered day-to-day by Scioscia.
Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli (foot) and third baseman David Freese (hand) each missed their third consecutive game.
Angels: RHP Matt Shoemaker (3-6, 5.50 ERA) will take the mound as the Angels visit the New York Yankees to start a four-game series. Shoemaker has allowed two runs or fewer in three consecutive starts and lowered his ERA by nearly three runs in that span. It will be the first meeting between the clubs in 2016. The Angels were swept in their only visit to New York in 2015.
Pirates: LHP Jonathon Niese (5-2, 4.36 ERA) will face his former club, the New York Mets, for the first time since being traded to Pittsburgh in December in exchange for second baseman Neil Walker. Niese has induced 89 ground ball outs this season, which leads the Pirates' staff, and his 1.75 ratio of ground balls to fly balls is the seventh-highest of qualifying National League pitchers.