Mark Melancon entered the top of the ninth in a tie game and appeared to be out of the inning when Gerardo Parra hit a tapper at the dish, but his hustle down the line forced Francisco’s Cervelli throw and it sailed to John Jaso’s right. Parra would later come in on Tony Wolters’ single off the first base bag.
“That’s the way the game goes,” first baseman John Jaso said. “I think the more you put the ball in play, the better chance you have something good going your way.”
Melancon (0-1) said that he did not know if you “could draw up a goofier inning than that,” but he did not blame his catcher.
“It’s my job to pick him up after that, and I didn’t do that,” Melancon said.
The game was delayed for 56 minutes and the elements did not improve as the night progressed on the originally scheduled afternoon affair. That helped both starters as the National League’s top two hitting clubs were held in check for the second game in a row.
Jonathon Niese delivered the fourth straight seven inning start for the Pirates, only allowing one run and four hits. 14 of his outs came via the ground ball to go along with four strikeouts. He ended the night retiring 14 of his last 15 by taking advantage of the Rockies’ eagerness.
“I noticed last yesterday in Gerrit’s outing that they became a little bit more aggressive the second, third time through the lineup. I just kind of used that in my favor,” Niese said. “I figured if I educated pitches early, they would get out.”
After falling behind 1-0 early, the Pirates’ offense came alive in the fourth. Jung-Ho Kang opened the frame with a double but was thrown out at the plate two batter’s later on Matt Joyce’s bouncer to second. Clint Hurdle challenged that the catcher Wolters blocked the plate, but the call was upheld. Kang was pulled a few innings later with hand discomfort, which happened during his headfirst slide.
Jordy Mercer brought home Joyce later in the inning, but that was the only offense the Pirates had. Tyler Chatwood allowed eight base runners in his six innings, but the two time Tommy John survivor was able to navigate through a lineup that Andrew McCutchen was absent from.
The four runs for the Rockies in the ninth were all unearned and were capped off by Christian Adames’ first major league homer. Carlos Estevez (1-1) won his first big league game.
Juan Nicasio (4-3, 4.46) will oppose Chad Bettis (4-2, 4.18) in the rubber match Sunday at 1:35 p.m..
1. Pirates’ starters have a 2.61 ERA so far in the homestand (11 runs in 38 innings).
2. Hurdle has only won four of his 12 challenges this year.
3. Chatwood set a new Rockies’ record for most consecutive scoreless innings on the road (27.2). It was the first run he allowed on the road since Apr. 29, 2014.