Bucs climb out of early hole to thump Twins
MINNEAPOLIS -- Andrew McCutchen had three RBIs, including a two-run homer, to back left-hander Francisco Liriano against his former team in a 10-4 win for the Pirates over the Twins on Wednesday afternoon at Target Field.
McCutchen came up big for Pittsburgh, crushing a game-tying two-run blast in the fifth before coming through with another big hit as part of a five-run sixth. With two runners on, McCutchen smacked a liner to right that Eddie Rosario couldn't handle, and he ended up scoring on the play due to interference from third baseman Eduardo Nunez.
"We had opportunities before then," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of earlier threats the Bucs could not convert. "It's always good when you're down on the road and you see McCutchen fire one up. We felt good after that."
It helped Liriano pick up the win despite not having his best stuff, as he lasted 5 2/3 innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on 10 hits. The left-hander outpitched Twins right-hander Ervin Santana, who entered with a scoreless streak of 15 2/3 innings but surrendered eight runs (six earned) on eight hits and four walks over 5 2/3 innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Defensive miscues, walks haunt Twins: With the game tied in the sixth inning, Santana ran into trouble, allowing the go-ahead run to score on a wild pitch. A pair of walks led to a sacrifice fly from Starling Marte before McCutchen put the game away with the help of Minnesota's defense. McCutchen hit a liner to Rosario, who couldn't handle it, which allowed two runs to score. But it got worse from there, as McCutchen was awarded home after Nunez ran into him while trying to retrieve a throw back into the infield that got past him.
"You can look at a lot of areas that need improvement with the way we've been playing, starting probably with managing and coaching," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "You look around and we're making mistakes defensively and on the bases, and [there are] little things we need to clean up. We haven't played a clean game in a while." More >
Polanco exits early: Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco left the game in the bottom of the fourth inning with "left knee discomfort." He was 0-for-2 at that point, thus ending his streak of reaching base at 18 games. Polanco has been icing the knee after games for a couple of weeks, and he was removed for precautionary reasons.
"I actually think he might have aggravated it late [Tuesday] night, on a play near the wall," Hurdle said. "And he just couldn't get loose today. We didn't feel it made any sense for him to push it." More >
Hicks keeps it rolling: After going 2-for-3 with three RBIs against the Pirates in Tuesday's 8-7 loss, Hicks went 3-for-5 with an RBI to collect his fourth straight multihit game. Hicks is hitting .343 over his last 21 games to raise his average from .247 to .288.
"I'm just trying to get a good pitch and drive it," Hicks said. "I'm trying to get into good counts and take advantage. I've been trying to be aggressive early in the count, but also laying off bad pitches and trying to stay in the middle of the field."
"We've prepared well. We've played well."
-- Hurdle, summing up the Pirates' Interleague slate, which they concluded with a 13-7 record against American League clubs
"Things just aren't going our way. It's one big hit after another. We're trying to stop it. And the errors aren't helping as well. So we're just trying to compete."
-- Hicks, on the Twins, who are 3-8 since the All-Star break
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The 10 hits surrendered by Liriano matched the most he has allowed since mid-2014; the lefty also gave up 10 hits to the Braves on Aug. 19, 2014.
Pirates: A.J. Burnett seeks his ninth win -- which would top his 2014 total with the Phillies -- in Thursday night's 7:10 p.m. ET opener of a four-game series against the Reds at Great American Ball Park, where the Bucs have dropped five straight since last September.
Twins: The Twins host the Mariners for a four-game set that begins on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Right-hander Phil Hughes is set to start the series opener for Minnesota. He's been on a roll recently, posting a 2.77 ERA over his past nine starts.
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