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Bucs pull ahead in 12th to edge rallying Rox

April 28, 2016

DENVER -- Jordy Mercer became the last starting position player to have a hit, and it came at the right time -- a two-out RBI double in the top of the 12th to give the Pirates a 9-8 victory over the Rockies at Coors Field on Wednesday night.Before losing on

DENVER -- Jordy Mercer became the last starting position player to have a hit, and it came at the right time -- a two-out RBI double in the top of the 12th to give the Pirates a 9-8 victory over the Rockies at Coors Field on Wednesday night.
Before losing on Mercer's hit off Carlos Estevez, the Rockies overcame a 7-0 deficit -- the first time they had overcome a hole that big since Aug. 25, 2010, when they overcame 7-0 and 10-1 deficits against the Braves to win, 12-10. They couldn't finish the job Wednesday night.
"He's got a good fastball, he's mixing and matching pretty well, keeping guys off balance," Mercer said of Estevez. "When he got ahead in the count, I had a good feeling he was going to come right after me. He's got a plus fastball. I gotta be ready for it. I wasn't trying to do too much. A lot of times you get in extra innings and you want to be the hero, and pop one out of the park and do something crazy, but I just wanted to stay within myself and get something to drive. I was able to stay through and hit it up the middle, and that's more self-satisfying for me than anything. It worked out."
Mark Melancon overcame two walks in the 12th to end the game with a strikeout of Trevor Story, who disputed the call of plate umpire Ramon DeJesus.

It wasn't the first time this homestand the Rockies, losers of five straight, came from a big disadvantage to lose. They came from six runs down to take the lead against the Dodgers on Sunday, but lost, 12-10.
"We've lost some tough ones, but sometimes that's the price you pay for fighting your way back into games, and you end up getting your heart broken," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "That was one of those nights."
The Pirates built their lead with Rockies starter Jon Gray allowing six runs and nine hits -- seven singles -- in 3 2/3 innings. But homers by Story -- his ninth in April, a National League rookie record -- and Nolan Arenado, also his ninth, in the fourth off Jonathon Niese started a comeback that pulled the Rockies close.

Gregory Polanco's homer off Justin Miller gave the Pirates an 8-5 lead. The Rockies' Mark Reynolds launched a two-run shot off Neftali Feliz in the seventh to make it a one-run game, then Gerardo Parra's eighth-inning homer off Tony Watson tied it.

Strong 'song:Ryan Vogelsong posted a huge hold for the Bucs when he entered up three runs with nobody out and the bases full of Rockies in the sixth. He escaped with only one run scoring, preserving a two-run lead. More >
"Honestly, I didn't even think about it as being a bases loaded and nobody out situation," Vogelsong said. "I was just coming in and trying to get a guy out as fast as I can. Once I got on the mound I was kind of thinking, 'Punch him out and get a double play.'"

Uplifting Story: It seemed as if the Rockies had been standing around for days as the Pirates fouled off Gray's pitches and chipped their way to a 7-0 lead. But Story's home run off Niese to open the fourth started a four-run rally, which included Arenado's homer.

Arrives to save the day: Lacking a long reliever because of a run of short starts, the Rockies called up righty Eddie Butler from Triple-A Albuquerque on Wednesday. Butler replaced Gray in the fourth and gave up a single and a two-run double, then proceeded to retire the next seven -- four via strikeout. Butler's work allowed the Rockies to climb back into the game. More >
"I threw the ball well and guys made plays behind me -- Reynolds a diving catch, Story a ball up the middle," said Butler, who recalled the last time he pitched in relief was as a scheduled piggy-back for two innings in his first professional outing at Rookie-level Grand Junction in 2012.

"I know [Melancon] has a good cutter, and that's pretty much what he just threw three times. I disagreed with the call, but he called strike three, so the game was over." -- Story, who argued briefly with DeJesus after the final out
"To have a guy throw 82 pitches before he gets an at-bat, that says something about your offense and what they're able to do." -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, on getting to Gray early
The left-handed-hitting Parra's homer off Watson was just the 11th left-on-left homer among his 58 career round-trippers.
An outing of 96 pitches and 63 strikes would normally signal a lengthy, effective outing. But Gray lasted just 3 2/3 innings. How did that happen? In part, it was because when he threw a strike the Pirates couldn't hit, batters simply fouled them off -- 23 times, including 12 with two strikes. Gray finished with just two strikeouts.
"The plan was to come in and get weak contact; I thought I did, but I'm just unlucky at this point," Gray said. "There are times I need to put guys away. It would help.
"My fastball and slider, I feel like I overmatched them a little bit. I don't really know what the issue is."
Weiss issued a second-inning challenge when Josh Harrison overslid the bag during an aborted double-play attempt. Had the Rockies turned it, the Pirates' first run would not have scored. The explanation was Harrison didn't engage in a legal slide -- he stubbed his right foot, then kind of threw it toward second baseman DJ LeMahieu and made no attempt to stay in contact with the bag -- but after review, it was ruled he didn't hinder or impede LeMahieu, who got out of the way.

Hurdle won a challenge in the fourth inning when Starling Marte was called out on a grounder to third for what would have been the third out of the inning. First-base umpire Bob Davidson called Marte out. Upon review, it was determined that Marte's foot touched the bag before the ball reached Reynolds' glove and the call was overturned. The Pirates scored two more runs in the inning for a 7-0 lead.

Pirates:Juan Nicasio (2-2, 4.50 ERA) returns to the park where he owns a 13-9 record with a 5.23 ERA in 48 games and 37 starts as the Pirates go for the series sweep on Thursday at 3:10 p.m. ET. All but one of those appearances came in his tenure as a Rockie.
Rockies: Righty Tyler Chatwood (2-2, 3.47 ERA), who is 10-6 with a 4.20 ERA in 24 appearances (20 starts) at Coors Field, will face the Pirates in Thursday's 1:10 p.m. MT series finale.
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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and** like his Facebook page**.

Owen Perkins is a contributor to based in Denver and covered the Pirates on Wednesday.