SAN DIEGO -- Colin Moran rarely, if ever, shows his emotions on the field. His teammates will do what they can to coax a reaction out of him, flashing exaggerated grins or trying to put one on his face after a big hit. They had to do it again on
SAN DIEGO -- Colin Moran rarely, if ever, shows his emotions on the field. His teammates will do what they can to coax a reaction out of him, flashing exaggerated grins or trying to put one on his face after a big hit. They had to do it again on Sunday afternoon.
Grand slams mean 40% off pizza
Moran hit his second grand slam of the season, the Bucs' biggest hit on a three-homer day, and the Pirates all but emptied their bullpen as they held on for a 7-5 win over the Padres at Petco Park. Pittsburgh has won four of six games on this road trip to capture consecutive series victories for the first time since taking four straight in early May.
Three months ago, Moran earned Pittsburgh's adoration by launching a grand slam into the right-field seats during the Pirates' home opener. Pittsburgh's rookie cleanup hitter came through again on Sunday, smashing his second slam in the fifth inning off starter Tyson Ross to turn the Pirates' one-run deficit into a 6-3 lead.
Moran, understated as ever, said he was just trying to move the runners over given his overall struggles with runners in scoring position. He wound up doing much more.
"Just trying to kind of move somebody, get a single or get something going," Moran said. "Luckily, I got them in."
Moran joined Wally Westlake (1947) as just the second Pirates rookie to hit two grand slams in a season. Moran is also the first Pirate to swat two slams in one season since Jose Bautista did so in 2006.
"Two grand slams in a year is pretty cool," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Some guys don't hit one their whole career. His rookie season, to have two of them now. … Those are cool things, and they don't happen for everybody. They don't happen to many guys whatsoever. It goes back to preparation, opportunity then production. He's been able to pull that off."
Moran's second grand slam, his eighth homer of the season, punctuated a two-out rally against Ross. Austin Meadows smacked a double to left field, then Josh Bell walked. Josh Harrison legged out a single that bounced just in front of the plate to load the bases for Moran, who cleared them with one swing at Ross' 1-0 cutter.
What is it about Moran's personality that might lead to his success with the bases loaded? Most of his teammates point to Moran's relentless, consistent, routine-oriented preparation. His advanced approach helps. Moran credited hitting coach Jeff Branson for correcting a flaw in his swing plane on Sunday morning.
Pretty much everyone, though, ultimately brings the conversation back to Moran's even-keeled demeanor.
"He's just one of the calmest people that I've ever played with. He has no emotion," left fielder Corey Dickerson said. "He has a good plan. He does the same thing every day. He doesn't ever change stuff up. He's very simple, and simple is sometimes the best in great moments like that. Big moments, the simpler the better -- and he's simple. He came through."
So, too, did the Pirates bullpen. Jameson Taillon left with a lead but lasted only 4 2/3 innings. Edgar Santana got out of a jam in the fifth, leaving runners on the corners after Taillon exited the game. Richard Rodriguez, Steven Brault and Kyle Crick each recorded one out in the sixth, and Crick -- who received his first Major League win -- remained in the game to pitch a scoreless seventh.
After throwing two scoreless innings in Saturday's 4-3 loss, Tyler Glasnow pitched a perfect eighth. It was the first time this season that Glasnow, drafted and developed as a starter, worked on back-to-back days. Closer Felipe Vazquez picked up his 17th save.
"We pretty much emptied the 'pen," Hurdle said. "It took us all. Crick did show up really big in that effort. Everybody got an out. Everybody did something to help. The heavy lifting was done by Crick."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Catching on: Making his ninth straight start in Francisco Cervelli's absence, catcher Elias Diaz provided plenty of power in the middle of Pittsburgh's lineup. Diaz doubled home Dickerson in the fourth inning, pulling the Pirates within a run, and he laced his sixth home run of the season out to left field to lead off the sixth and end Ross' outing.
Diaz has quietly been one of the Pirates' most productive hitters in his first full Major League season. The 27-year-old is hitting .294/.341/.484 with 21 RBIs and only 14 strikeouts in 45 games.
"It's been a seamless transition. The game prep's been good. The game calling's been good," Hurdle said. "The at-bats have been really clean. It's been fun to watch him swing the bat."
Dickerson put the Pirates on the board in the second inning with a solo shot to right field, his first home run since May 4 and his first RBI since June 1. Dickerson has been somewhat of a statistical oddity this season, cutting his strikeouts nearly in half while seeing his power numbers drop over the past two months due to an approach designed to help him make more contact.
"I always have my two-strike approach I can go to at any time, or I can rely on it with two strikes and take my chances early on to drive the baseball," Dickerson said. "The new approach I've had is a work-in-progress, just trying to get better at it each and every day. I've been pretty steady with my routine and doing the things I have to. Lately I've been driving the ball a lot better in BP and stuff, but still, you've got to get your timing in the game. It's starting to come back around."
HE SAID IT
"I was just glad he didn't forget his trot. He pulled off his trot like he'd hit a bunch of them. Guys have always got that trot in the back pocket, waiting to bust it out. It's good. Hopefully as we talk about things being contagious, that can be contagious, something might happen there. He put a good swing on a ball. That's got to help his confidence."--Hurdle, on Dickerson snapping his home run drought
"I didn't necessarily think about my first one. I just thought about a lot of them, being up there and winning as many games as possible. … I'm just definitely glad to get the first one out of the way."--Crick, on his first Major League win
The Pirates will recall Nick Kingham from Triple-A Indianapolis to rejoin their rotation on Monday as they begin a three-game series at Dodger Stadium. Kingham, who has a 3.82 ERA in his first six Major League starts, has been in Triple-A since starting in Chicago on June 9. Lefty Alex Wood will start for the Dodgers at 10:10 p.m. ET.
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.