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(Sunday, June 23rd)
Final Score: Pittsburgh 10, LA Angels of Anaheim 9 (10 innings)
Anaheim, CA (Sports Network) - Travis Snider's tie-breaking single highlighted a four-run 10th inning and a furious late comeback that gave the Pittsburgh Pirates a wild 10-9 victory over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and a three-game series sweep.
The Pirates trailed 6-3 entering their final at-bat, but struck for three runs against Angels closer Ernesto Frieri in the top of the ninth before battering the Anaheim bullpen again in the 10th en route to the franchise's first-ever sweep of an interleague set on the road.
"To finish the way we did, very strong, was a good team victory," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "To sweep a series on the road gives you added confidence."
Three runs came home on Snider's bases-loaded hit off Kevin Jepsen (0-2), with the ball getting by Angels outfielder J.B. Shuck for an error that put the Bucs up 9-6 before Russell Martin's RBI single extended the lead.
The Angels didn't go down quietly in the bottom of the inning, however, stringing together three runs and five hits against Jason Grilli before the majors' saves leader struck out Mike Trout with the tying run on third and the winning run on second.
Pedro Alvarez began the 10th-inning uprising with a double and had a solo homer -- his fourth in as many games -- while Martin and Starling Marte each came up with clutch RBI hits in the ninth to help Pittsburgh to its fourth consecutive win overall.
Shuck finished 2-for-3 with two RBI and scored twice at the plate, with Alberto Callaspo adding two hits and an RBI for the Angels, who squandered an early 5-1 lead that denied Joe Blanton an elusive second win of the season.
Blanton had held the Pirates to three runs -- one earned -- while striking out six without a walk over 7 1/3 effective innings. The right-hander retired the last 14 batters he faced.
"Our bullpen has been doing a great job, but today it didn't happen," said Blanton. "We kept fighting, but didn't pull it out."
Frieri entered the top of the ninth with his team holding a 6-3 lead and a streak of 22 consecutive batters retired, a stretch that ended when he walked Neil Walker to begin the inning. Gaby Sanchez followed with a single that placed runners at the corners, with Walker crossing the plate on Andrew McCutchen's fielder's choice that had Pittsburgh down to its final out.
Martin kept hope alive by ripping a pinch-hit double off the left-field wall that knocked in McCutchen, then beat Shuck's throw home after Marte singled to left to tie the contest at six.
"That's how we are," said Martin. "We kept our same approach and kept battling."
After Mark Melancon (2-1) tossed a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth, Alvarez belted a double off Jepsen and reached third on a sacrifice bunt. The bases were soon loaded on a pair of walks -- an intentional pass to Walker and an unintended one to Sanchez -- and Snider broke the deadlock by slicing a 3-1 pitch to left, which was misplayed by Shuck on a hop and brought in all three runners.
Martin's run-scoring hit that followed proved to be crucial, as Anaheim hit Grilli hard in its half of the 10th to nearly extend the game.
Snider misplayed Howie Kendrick's one-out fly ball to right that wound up as a triple. Callaspo knocked home Kendrick with a base hit. Three of the next four Angels hitters singled as well, including consecutive shots from Shuck and Brendan Harris that pulled the home team within 10-9.
Both runners got into scoring position on the relay throw home on Harris' hit, but Grilli rebounded to strike out the dangerous Trout on five pitches.
Alvarez's towering homer to right in the top of the first inning briefly put the Pirates on top, but the Angels sent nine men to the plate and took advantage of a couple of defensive miscues during a five-run second that gave Blanton some room to work.
The first two runs came as a result of Pittsburgh errors, with Walker throwing the ball away on Erick Aybar's infield single and Alvarez handcuffed by Chris Iannetta's grounder to third. Shuck then slapped a single to left to increase the lead to 3-1, right before Pirates starter Charlie Morton walked Peter Bourjos to load the bases with one out.
That brought up Trout, who hit a sharp grounder to second that forced out Bourjos, but the outfielder was able to execute a successful takeout slide of Pittsburgh shortstop Jordy Mercer that allowed a hustling Shuck to score from second behind Iannetta.
Bourjos injured his left thumb on the play, however, and was replaced in the lineup by Brad Hawpe.
The Pirates got back in it by reaching Blanton for a pair of unearned runs in the fourth, with Kendrick's fielding error at second bringing in Marte after the leadoff man doubled to begin the frame. Walker followed with a double in front of Sanchez's infield single that cut the deficit to 5-3.
Blanton found a groove afterward, however, as the Pirates didn't manage a single baserunner over the remainder of the right-hander's stint.
"Chris [Iannetta] did a good job behind the plate," said Blanton. "I mixed my pitches and attacked."
Shuck walked in the bottom of the fourth, stole second, and came around on a two-out single by Hawpe that pushed Anaheim's advantage to 6-3.
Morton lasted 5 2/3 innings and allowed six runs -- three earned -- while issuing five walks.
The Angels suffered only their second interleague sweep at home, with the other coming against San Diego in 1999 ... Pittsburgh rookie Tony Sanchez, the fourth overall pick of the 2009 draft, started as the designated hitter and doubled in his first major league at-bat in the second inning ... Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton was out of the lineup for a third straight game with a sore right wrist, but came in as a defensive replacement in the ninth ... Callaspo extended his hitting streak to nine games ... Alvarez, who's now hit safely in eight straight games, hit his 69th career homer to tie Bobby Bonilla for third-most in club history by a third baseman.
06/23 20:31:50 ET
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