The Pirates ended their offensive woes on Sunday afternoon, dominating at the plate and defeating the San Diego Padres by a score of 11-5. Bucs’ starter, Erik Bedard, got off to a rough start in the first inning but was extremely efficient the rest of the way.
“Early on I wasn’t throwing enough strikes with my fastball,” said Bedard. “I did the best I could with what happened out there.”
Bedard gave up four runs in the first and things looked bleak early on for the Pirates. However, the Buccos exploded in the bottom of the fourth inning for six hits and nine runs, giving the team the spark they needed to get back on the right track.
Neil Walker and Clint Barmes both had excellent days at the plate. Walker tied a career high with five hits, the second time he’s done that this season, and Clint Barmes hit a grand slam off the left field foul pole during the Pirates big fourth inning to fuel the rally.
Before the fourth, though, the Padres put a lot of pressure on the Bucs.
Chris Denorfia belted a leadoff home run for the Padres to deep left center field on just the second pitch of the game, putting the Padres ahead 1-0. After a walk to Logan Forsythe and Carlos Quentin being plunked by a pitch, Jesus Guzman singled to left field to bring in Forsythe.
Cameron Maybin hit a ground ball to Clint Barmes in the next at bat, and a three-base throwing error by Clint Barmes gave Maybin third base and brought in Quentin and Guzman to put the Padres up 4-0.
The Padres extended their lead to 5-0 in the top of the second inning when Forsythe crossed the plate again after a ground ball to the right side of the field by Chase Headley.
After that, it was all Pirates.
Bedard helped his own cause with a double to the left field corner during the bottom half of the third. After a strikeout by Starling Marte, Neil Walker drove in Bedard with a single to center field, putting the Pirates on the board.
The fourth inning is where the Bucs looked like the team fans have been seeing all season long. After Garrett Jones drew a leadoff walk and Gaby Sanchez reached on a throwing error, Pedro Alvarez singled to right field to load the bases. Mike McKenry drew a walk in the next at bat, bringing in Garrett Jones and closing the gap to 5-2.
On a 2-2 count in the next at-bat, Clint Barmes belted his first career grand slam off of the left field foul pole to clear the bases and put the Pirates ahead 6-5.
“I was just trying to put a barrel on the ball and do something to at least get one run in,” said Barmes. “I hit it well obviously and as soon as I hit it, I saw it starting to hook and it’s one of those where I was just hoping it would stay fair.”
“It was the first time I’ve done that in my career, and it happened at a perfect time,” added Barmes. “This is a big win for us. We definitely needed to get something going.”
After a walk to Bedard and a single by Neil Walker, Andrew McCutchen contributed to the Pirates’ offense by crushing a double to deep center field to bring in both base runners, putting the Bucs up 8-5. Garrett Jones blasted a triple in the next at-bat to bring in Cutch.
McKenry got another chance at the plate in the inning and singled to left field, bringing in Garrett Jones and putting the Pirates ahead 10-5.
After the fourth, it was smooth sailing for the rest of the game. The Padres only managed one hit in the final four innings.
Neil Walker added a solo shot in the bottom of the seventh inning to put the final score at 11-5 in favor of the Pirates.
“This is a fairly powerful group in here,” said Walker of his team’s success with the long ball this year. “We’re not huge, but we can put them over the fences.”
With the victory, the Pirates ended a four-game skid heading into a long series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“To our team’s credit, you know, we’re pretty good,” added manager Clint Hurdle after the game. “We’re not perfect, we’ll confuse you and we’ll probably anger you from time to time. But we’re gonna let it all hang out and we’re going to play hard.”
“They found a way to dig one out of the dirt today,” said Hurdle.
The Pirates continue their home stand tomorrow night against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Jeff Karstens (4-2, 3.77 ERA) gets the ball against Aaron Harang (7-7, 3.80 ERA) with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.