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Cora explains why he held tying run at third

MLB.com @adamdberry

SAN DIEGO -- After the Pirates' 4-3 loss to the Padres at Petco Park on Saturday night, manager Clint Hurdle and third-base coach Joey Cora reviewed Cora's decision not to have Gregory Polanco tag up on Jose Osuna's ninth-inning flyout in foul territory that might have brought home the tying run.

Hurdle and Cora addressed their decision-making process before Sunday's series finale in San Diego. Cora acknowledged that Polanco should have been back at third base, not down the line like he was, but repeatedly said he thought Polanco would have been thrown out by strong-armed right fielder Hunter Renfroe if he had tagged up.

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SAN DIEGO -- After the Pirates' 4-3 loss to the Padres at Petco Park on Saturday night, manager Clint Hurdle and third-base coach Joey Cora reviewed Cora's decision not to have Gregory Polanco tag up on Jose Osuna's ninth-inning flyout in foul territory that might have brought home the tying run.

Hurdle and Cora addressed their decision-making process before Sunday's series finale in San Diego. Cora acknowledged that Polanco should have been back at third base, not down the line like he was, but repeatedly said he thought Polanco would have been thrown out by strong-armed right fielder Hunter Renfroe if he had tagged up.

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"I thought he was going to get thrown out. That's it. It's that simple," Cora said. "Nothing more, nothing less, no foul ball, no nothing. It's just, I thought he was going to get thrown out.

"He should have been tagging up, yeah. But definitely, I told him not to go. Whether he was on the base or not, he wasn't going to go. If he went, it was against my will."

Polanco said Saturday night that Cora told him not to tag up on either Osuna's foul ball or Jordy Mercer's flyout to shallow right field in the previous at-bat. Hurdle said the Pirates reviewed the play from all available angles, watched it and walked through the entire situation -- who was batting (Osuna), who was on deck (Starling Marte) and how difficult the play was for Renfroe as his momentum took him toward the side wall.

"We need to be, at the worst, forcing a throw if not going," Hurdle said. "They did have a different angle than we had. Joey would be the first one to tell you right now he told him to not go. That was his immediate call. As we walked back through it, he understands that if he gets that opportunity to make that call again, there'll be a tag and a go.

"I don't know if he would have scored. We'll never know if he would have scored or not scored."

Kingham to join rotation
The Pirates intend to recall right-hander Nick Kingham from Triple-A Indianapolis to start Monday's series opener at Dodger Stadium. Kingham arrived at Petco Park on Sunday morning.

"With what Nick's done, he was the guy for us to step in," general manager Neal Huntington said on his weekly KDKA-FM radio show. "We have other options, but we felt Nick was the best one to take the ball, to continue to put this team in a position to win games as he's done in most of his other starts, to fold right into this rotation."

Kingham will take the rotation spot left open by Chad Kuhl, who is on the 10-day disabled list with a right forearm strain. Kingham, Pittsburgh's No. 12 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, is 2-3 with a 3.82 ERA in six starts for the Pirates this season. Huntington said the Pirates are still gathering information on Kuhl's injury, so it is unclear how long Kingham will stick in the rotation.

"Our hope is that it will just be a flexor strain, and with some rest, he'll be able to come back and be as good as new," Huntington said.

Around the horn
• Hurdle said that Sean Rodriguez will receive regular playing time during his upcoming rehab assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis. Rodriguez (right quad strain) will move around the field defensively, occasionally serve as Indianapolis' designated hitter and rest when needed.

"There are times where it's difficult to get a veteran role player on track. Sean was taking just a ton of swings and a ton of extra work to try to get back on track," Huntington said on KDKA-FM. "This could be one of those blessings in disguise where now he has the opportunity to rest, to have some good work days, to get a cluster of at-bats in Triple-A."

• After going 3-for-28 during an 11-game stretch earlier this month, Polanco entered Sunday batting .500 (15-for-30) with a .625 on-base percentage over his last 12 games. Both of those figures are the best in the Majors since June 17.

"I got a few calls. The same people that wanted Polanco in Triple-A or on the bench now want him hitting cleanup," Hurdle said, smiling. "And they mean it."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

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