PITTSBURGH– Down 5-4 in the top of the ninth, the San Diego Padres pushed across four runs off Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez to win 8-5 and take the series in Pittsburgh.
San Diego improved to 20-28 while Pittsburgh fell to 26-20.
Padres rally in 9th to take series
The Pirates entered Sunday’s game with a 21-0 record when leading after eight innings. The Padres entered the game 0-24 when trailing after eight.
Make it 21-1. And 1-24.
With a 5-4 lead in hand, Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez (who struck out the side on 13 pitches on Thursday) entered looking for his 10th save of the season. He was immediately greeted with back-to-back singles by Jose Pirela and Christian Villanueva.
With runners on first and second and nobody out, Cory Spangenberg entered to pinch-hit in the pitcher’s spot. He immediately squared to bunt, but fouled off the two of the first four pitches; working the count to 2-2. The bunt sign was then taken off as Spangenberg fouled off four consecutive pitches.
On the 9th pitch of the at-bat, Spangenberg hit a ground ball to Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer. With the speedy Spangenberg running, Mercer threw wide of second base, allowing Pirela to score from second and placing runners on first and third with nobody out. The game was tied, 5-5.
“Sometimes you just put a ball in play and good things will happen,” said manager Andy Green. “That was a real good battle at-bat from him (Spangenberg).”
Freddy Galvis followed with a safety-squeeze bunt to give the Padres a 6-5 lead. Following a double-steal, AJ Ellis delivered the dagger: a two-run single into right-center to give the Padres an 8-5 lead.
“It was huge. Just about everybody played a part in that inning,” stated Green. “It was a really good comeback.”
In the bottom of the 9th, Pittsburgh loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. However, Brad Hand retired Jordy Mercer on a line drive to third to seal the victory.
Two pitches hurt Lyles
Through 5 2/3 innings on Sunday, it appeared as if Jordan Lyles would be cruising towards yet another strong start. He had only allowed five hits and one run, and his team had spotted him a 4-1 lead.
Things changed quickly.
With two outs in the sixth, Lyles walked Pirates third baseman Colin Moran on four pitches. After jumping ahead 1-2 on rookie Austin Meadows, Lyles made a big mistake, hanging a breaking ball on the inner third of the plate. Meadows did not miss it, lining a home run over the right-center field fence for the first home run of his career.
The blast cut the Padres lead to 4-3.
One pitch later, another Pirate was circling the bases. Jordy Mercer lined a 95 mile-per-hour fastball over the left field wall for his third home run of the year. Just like that, the Padres lead was no more and Lyles’ outing was finished.
Lyles, who took a perfect game into the 8th inning in his prior start, ended up allowing seven hits and four runs in 5 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out four; throwing 57 of his 93 pitches for strikes.
“Two swings kind of change the way his line looks, but that does not change the way he threw the ball today. He did a lot of really good things,” said Green regarding Lyles.
Meadows hits first MLB home run, goes 3-for-4
Pirates rookie Austin Meadows, who was promoted on Friday, was a difference maker on Sunday.
The former first round pick had a 3-for-4 day, which included his first career MLB home run. The 420-foot, two-run shot in the bottom of the sixth was instrumental in the Pirates (uncompleted) comeback.
Yates allows second run of the season
Kirby Yates, who entered play with a minuscule 0.60 ERA in 15 innings pitched, allowed a run in the 8th. After the Pirates loaded the bases with one out via two singles and a hit by pitch, Josh Harrison lifted a fly ball to center field for a sacrifice fly.
Despite allowing the run, Yates was credited with the win. He is now 3-0.
Villanueva homers again
In the top of the fourth inning on Sunday, Villanueva ripped a 92 mile-per-hour fastball from Pirates starter Trevor Williams into the Padres bullpen in left-center field.
The home run, which gave San Diego a 2-1 lead, traveled 410 feet with an exit velocity of 108 mph.
For Villanueva, it was his 12th home run of the season and third off of a right-handed pitcher. It was also his second home run in less than 24 hours and his third in the last five games.
With his 12th HR this season Villanueva tied all time Mexican born rookie season HR record he now shares with Oriole’s Geronimo Gil. #padres