Seven innings of effort against Julio Teheran yielded little for Pirates Sunday afternoon. The two runs they scored against him were of the unearned variety, brought upon by an error that extended the fourth inning.
They had much better luck in the final three innings.
Yes, three. Sunday’s game required extra innings when the Pirates drew within one in the eighth and tied it in the ninth. Starling Marte finished the job in the 10th. His two-run homer concluded a 6-5 victory and a series sweep of the Atlanta Braves at PNC Park. Marte went 7 for 12 in the series, scoring four runs and driving in four more.
“He’s just trying to take care of the at-bat that’s handed to him that time and take care of the situation that’s handed to him at the time,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “… Finished with a big swing.”
Adam Frazier doubled against Jose Ramirez in the 10th, with the Pirates trailing by one, before Marte hit the first pitch into the bullpen.
“I know I got barrel,” Marte said. “The wind was hard out, which helped me a little bit. But I know I got that one.”
Felipe Rivero, who previously hadn’t allowed a run this season, gave up consecutive singles and a run-scoring groundout to Tyler Flowers in the top of the 10th.
Braves closer Jim Johnson entered to preserve a one-run lead in the ninth. Gregory Polanco singled and Josh Bell walked. With a 2-1 count and nobody out, Hurdle had Jordy Mercer bunt — and Mercer popped out to the catcher. There was no opting out of the bunt once Mercer worked ahead in the count, Hurdle said: “When the sign’s on, the sign’s on.”
David Freese pinch-hit and walked to load the bases. The last man on the bench, Francisco Cervelli, pinch-hit and grounded to the left side. Adonis Garcia threw to Brandon Phillips at second. Phillips jumped to avoid Freese’s slide and dropped the ball, causing the Braves to challenge the legality of the slide, but the call was confirmed and the score was tied.
The initial damage from the Braves lineup came from Freddie Freeman, who went 4 for 5 with a double and two homers. He hit one home run against starter Gerrit Cole, who allowed three runs in six innings. Antonio Bastardo almost struck Freeman out looking before his second home run, a long drive to right-center in the seventh.
“I thought we pitched him very effectively the first two games,” Hurdle said. “He’s a good hitter, and he hit some mistakes that we left up out over the plate today.”
Cole allowed eight hits, walked two and struck out four, and the Braves squared him up. Dansby Swanson, the second batter of the game, lined a home run to left field. Freeman followed with a sharp single and stolen base to set up Nick Markakis’ RBI single.