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Sanchez Helps Pirates Dig Out 9-8 Win

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[May 22, 2014]  PITTSBURGH -- It was not the easiest night to be behind the plate for the Pittsburgh Pirates as Tony Sanchez said, by his count, that he was forced to block 27 pitches. 

However, the rookie catcher still had enough energy to produce the winning RBI.

Left fielder Starling Marte had three hits, including a two-run triple, and scored the winning run in the seventh inning on Sanchez's single as the Pirates edged the Baltimore Orioles 9-8 on Wednesday night in a game that saw 14 runs scored in the first two innings.

"I'm tired and I'm sore," Sanchez said with a grin. "But game-winning knocks always make the pain go away."

With the score tied 8-8, Marte started the winning rally with a leadoff single against reliever Ryan Webb (2-1). Marte took third on first baseman Ike Davis' single and scored on Sanchez's ground single into right field with one out.

Sanchez has 12 RBIs in 21 games, ranking sixth on the team despite having just 72 at-bats in the season's first 45 games.

"When you watch him catch, the way he's always moving around behind the plate, the type of enthusiasm he brings to the job, you would think he might be a little jumpy in the batter's box, but he's not," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He really stays calm in big situations."
 


Reliever Bryan Morris (4-0) won despite being charged with one run in one inning. Mark Melancon pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his seventh save in nine opportunities.

The Orioles had tied the score in the seventh at 8 when shortstop J.J. Hardy singled in a run against left-hander Justin Wilson and pinch-hitter Steve Pearce singled in a run against Morris.

"Any loss is a loss," Orioles left fielder Nelson Cruz said. "We have to focus on the positive. We gave ourselves a lot chances to score and our pitchers the room to throw some innings."

Davis also had three hits and two RBIs and center fielder Andrew McCutchen also had three of the Pirates' 12 hits, including two doubles.

Cruz had three hits and three RBIs, including his 14th home run of the season to start the second inning for the Orioles, who also had 12 hits.

Neither starter made it past the second. Baltimore's Chris Tillman was torched for eight runs -- six earned -- and eight hits in one-plus inning. Pittsburgh's Wandy Rodriguez was tagged for six runs -- only one earned -- and seven hits in 1 2/3 innings.

Tillman threw his first career shutout in his previous start last Friday against the Royals in Kansas City.

"Coming off a good one, you'd like to carry it over and get a good rhythm going here," Tillman said. "It was tough. I battled and tried to make adjustments, but they just didn't come."

Rodriguez has allowed 10 home runs in just 26 1/3 innings this season.

"It has been very frustrating," Rodriguez said.

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The Pirates won for just third time in nine games and the Orioles lost for the seventh time in 10 games.

The Pirates grabbed a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. McCutchen doubled home a run, and Marte hit a two-run triple and scored on Davis' single.

The Orioles answered with a six-run second, knocking Rodriguez out of the game in the process. Cruz led off the inning with his home run and capped the outburst with a two-run double.

The Pirates scored four more runs in the second to regain the lead at 8-6 and chase Tillman. Third baseman Pedro Alvarez and Davis hit RBI singles.

NOTES: Pirates RHP Jason Grilli threw a 20-pitch simulated game on Wednesday. He is expected to be activated from the disabled list Saturday. The closer has been out since April 21 because of a strained left oblique muscle. ... Pittsburgh C Russell Martin could also come off the DL this weekend as he continues his recovery from a strained left hamstring that has sidelined him since May 11. ... Baltimore C Matt Wieters, on the DL since May 11 with a strained right elbow, has started catching bullpen sessions but has not been cleared to throw. ... The Orioles open a four-game home series with the Cleveland Indians on Thursday night with LHP Wei-Yen Chen (5-2, 3.69 ERA) getting the start. RHP Josh Tomlin was scheduled to pitch for the Indians but was forced to work in relief on Thursday during Cleveland's 13-inning victory over Detroit. ... The Pirates host the Washington Nationals in a four-game series that begins Thursday night as RHP Edinson Volquez (1-4, 4.71 ERA) faces RHP Blake Treinen (0-1, 0.77).

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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