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Padres escape 9th-inning jam to hold off Bucs

Hand allows 2 runs in ninth but strands tying run on third in thriller
MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- The postgame fireworks were supposed to be the game's only late-night theatrics, but a near bullpen catastrophe accounted for some ninth-inning drama in the Padres' 4-3 win over the Pirates on Saturday night.

With a 4-1 lead and the Pirates' bottom half of the order coming up, manager Andy Green turned to closer Brad Hand for the save, who immediately surrendered three consecutive extra-base hits. The first two resulted in back-to-back doubles, bringing the game to 4-2. The third hit came courtesy of a Gregory Polanco RBI triple, making it 4-3 with no outs and the tying runner 90 feet away.

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SAN DIEGO -- The postgame fireworks were supposed to be the game's only late-night theatrics, but a near bullpen catastrophe accounted for some ninth-inning drama in the Padres' 4-3 win over the Pirates on Saturday night.

With a 4-1 lead and the Pirates' bottom half of the order coming up, manager Andy Green turned to closer Brad Hand for the save, who immediately surrendered three consecutive extra-base hits. The first two resulted in back-to-back doubles, bringing the game to 4-2. The third hit came courtesy of a Gregory Polanco RBI triple, making it 4-3 with no outs and the tying runner 90 feet away.

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However, right-fielder Hunter Renfroe was there to save the day.

Renfroe raced in on back-to-back flyouts and made strong throws to the plate to keep Polanco at third. Renfroe crashes into the wall along the right-field line on the second catch, but Polanco opted not to test the strong-throwing right fielder. It was a decision that cost the Pirates, as Hand struck out Starling Marte to end the game and notch his 23rd save of the season.

"I figured Polanco would tag," Green said. "It's tough bouncing off the wall, making a perfect throw to the plate. If anybody's got the arm strength to do it, Hunter does.

Video: PIT@SD: Green on Lucchesi's start in win over Pirates

"That's a tough, tough play. Polanco, thankfully, was halfway down the line. I guess he thought it was in fair territory. Those were great plays. [Renfroe] was smarter than me in the moment, because it worked out."

Renfroe expressed surprise that Polanco didn't tag up, saying he was fully expecting Polanco to be running home.

"I know that I do have a resume that I throw guys out and I have a strong arm. But in that case, I don't know why they wouldn't," he said. "I don't know if he just messed up. For the most part, you're tagging no matter what there."

Video: PIT@SD: Galvis makes a sliding stop to rob Diaz

Usually one of the most reliable arms in the Padres' trusty bullpen, Hand has struggled this month, allowing eight runs in 12 innings. He lacked command on his slider Saturday, usually his best pitch, but still managed to get three straight outs to preserve the win.

"What he's done so well over the course of his career is bury that slider with two strikes, and get people to chase it outside the zone," Green said. "Those were just left up today. Still, at the end of the day, he got the job done."

Video: PIT@SD: Villanueva makes tough stop, gets forceout

Padres starter Joey Lucchesi wasn't perfect Saturday, but he was sharp enough, in his third start since coming off the disabled list. He allowed just one hit -- an infield single to David Freese -- over five scoreless innings in which no ball reached the outfield. He walked four and struck out five over 85 pitches to improve to 4-3.

Video: PIT@SD: Lucchesi K's Bell looking in the 1st inning

Here comes Myers
Wil Myers powered the Padres' offense, driving in three of their four runs en route to San Diego's first win at home since June 6.

Myers was batting just .214 (6-28) since his return from the disabled list on June 21, but an 0-1 fastball from Pirates starter and San Diego native Trevor Williams sparked a change. Myers sent the offering deep into right-center for a solo shot, his first home run since April 2.

Video: PIT@SD: Myers belts a solo homer to right field

He would drive in two more runs his next at-bat, hitting a double to left to give San Diego a 4-1 lead.

Myers' offensive boost couldn't have come at a better time for the Padres, who were 2-10 in their last 12 games and were averaging just 2 1/2 runs per game over the last two weeks.

SOUND SMART
Since his 2016 arrival in San Diego -- when he began using his slider with regularity -- Hand has owned left-handed hitters. It's what made the extra-base hits from Meadows and Polanco so stunning. On only one other occasion has Hand surrendered consecutive extra-base hits to lefties. Eric Hosmer, now Hand's teammate, homered against him last June for Kansas City before Mike Moustakas doubled.

HE SAID IT
"I don't think he ever lacks for confidence, and we don't lack for confidence in him. He's got those situations where he's just got to finish those pitches a little better than he did tonight. But he doesn't rattle. You've got one of the faster runners in the game on third base with nobody out in a one-run game. There's not many pitchers that are getting out of that. He managed to get out of that." --Green on Hand

UP NEXT
Tyson Ross gets the ball Sunday in the Padres' series finale against the Pirates. The veteran right-hander is coming off a solid June, going at least five innings in all five starts and posting a 3.38 ERA. Ross defeated the Pirates earlier in the season with a two-run, five-hit outing over six innings on May 18. He'll face off against Pittsburgh's Jameson Taillon, who is 1-0 with a 1.26 ERA in two starts vs. San Diego in his career. First pitch is set for 1:10 p.m. PDT time.

Katie Woo covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @katiejwoo.

San Diego Padres