Norris' grand slam walk-off snaps Bucs' streak
SAN DIEGO -- Derek Norris hit a walk-off grand slam in the ninth to lift the Padres to a 6-2 win over the Pirates Friday night at Petco Park. Francisco Liriano gave the Pirates all he had for six innings, allowing only three hits and striking out 11, but the bullpen couldn't hold a two-run lead
The shot to left-center snapped Pittsburgh's seven-game winning streak and came after the Padres loaded the bases with none out off reliever Rob Scahill. The Pirates then pulled Gregory Polanco from right field, replacing him with Sean Rodriguez and then moving him to the infield. Playing in tight and with five infielders, pinch-hitter Alexi Amarista and Yangervis Solarte bounced into the forceouts at the plate before Norris hit the homer.
"A walk-off grand slam? You dream about that as a kid,'' Norris said. "Bases loaded with two out is something that every kid thinks of when throwing it up to themselves in their backyard.''
Padres right-hander James Shields avoided losing for the the first time in a Padres uniform after winning his first six decisions. Shields was in and out of trouble all night, but the Pirates could only manage a pair of runs on six hits against him
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Change of fortune: Norris became the first player in Major League Baseball history to hit a walk-off grand slam after striking out the first four times he came to plate. More >
"That's the great thing about this game,'' Norris said. "If you continue to play the game the right way and bust your butt and big situations come up, you have confidence in yourself.''
Throwing it away: Scahill walked Jedd Gyorko to open the ninth inning, a no-no in itself. Never walk the first batter you face in a tie game. Abraham Almonte followed with a sacrifice bunt back to the mound. Scahill said he "babied the throw" and tossed it by first baseman Pedro Alvarez for a two-base error, with Gyorko heading to third and Almonte to second with no one out. More >
"That's a throw I've made a thousand times, But I just threw it away," he said. "If I make the throw that inning is over, but obviously it didn't work out that way for us. I'm was just going to shower it off, come back tomorrow and try and get us another win."
Taking the fifth: The Padres' best chance to break through against Liriano came in the fifth inning. Gyorko singled and took third on Clint Barmes' one-out single. But Shields struck out and Solarte grounded out to end the threat. The Padres managed a double, two singles and a walk off the left-hander.
Caught in a pickle: The Padres tied the score in the seventh on Abraham Almonte's two-run double. Almonte advanced to third and broke for the plate on pinch-hitter Will Venable's ground ball to Alvarez at first base. Alvarez sprinted toward Almonte, which started a 3-5-2-3 putout to erase the go-ahead run.
"We were just trying to be sensible with it. The sixth inning was good and clean. As I've said many time before, when you make decisions like that and they don't work, it's on the manager" -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle on why he yanked Liriano after six innings and only 96 pitches
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
San Diego State basketball coach Steve Fisher was among those throwing out the first pitch on Friday night. It's no surprise that Padres manager Bud Black was on the receiving end of Fisher's heave. Black, who played baseball at SDSU from 1978-79 with the late Tony Gwynn, is a member of the school's Hall of Fame.
With runners on second and third and one out in the the third, Starling Marte struck out on a Shields pitch that bounced a short distance by Norris. Polanco tried to scamper home. But Shields covered the plate, took Norris' throw and tagged Polanco on the foot. Umpire Cory Blaser called Polanco out as Marte took first base on the wild pitch. Hurdle called for the review and the call stood.
Pirates:It's the third game of a four-game series on Saturday at 10:10 p.m. ET with right-hander Charlie Morton (1-0, 2.57 ERA) on the mound as the Bucs play for the only time this season in San Diego.
Padres: Tyson Ross seeks his first win since May 14 when he faces the Pirates. Ross is 1-4 with a 3.73 ERA in his last seven starts.
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