Freese, Bucs rally past D-backs with big 5th

May 25th, 2016

PITTSBURGH -- A day after showcasing their lineup's full potential, the Pirates displayed their resilience. David Freese's two-run homer punctuated a four-run fifth inning as the Bucs stormed back to beat the D-backs, 5-4, on Wednesday night at PNC Park.
"This lineup has shown time and time again that we're going to fight, [at-bat] to [at-bat], from the first inning on," Freese said. "It might not look like it all the time, but we battle."
Pittsburgh has won eight of its past 10 games. The Pirates scored 12 runs to win the series opener Tuesday and needed each of the five runs they pushed across Wednesday night.
Left-hander Jeff Locke threw 6 1/3 innings, allowing four runs and two homers. But he kept the game close enough for the lineup to stage a four-run rally in the fifth. John Jaso and Andrew McCutchen singled, Gregory Polanco lined an RBI double to right field and Starling Marte pulled the Bucs within one on a run-scoring groundout. Up came Freese, who crushed the go-ahead shot into the Pittsburgh bullpen at 451 feet, per Statcast™.

"It's a matter of 'when' with those guys," Locke said. "They're playing really well right now. We just want to keep it rolling as long as we can."
The fifth was the Pirates' first and final shot to crack right-hander Rubby De La Rosa, who left after allowing five runs on a season-high nine hits in 4 1/3 innings. The D-backs gave De La Rosa an early lead on a pair of home runs: Yasmany Tomas' two-run shot in the second and Rickie Weeks Jr.'s solo homer in the fifth.
"Both [Tomas] and Rickie, you don't often see home runs to left field here, it's a long way," D-backs manager Chip Hale said. "They both hooked them right one around the pole and the other off the pole. Those are good at-bats."

S-Rod, for J-Hay: With Josh Harrison scratched about an hour before first pitch, Sean Rodriguez took over at second base, batting sixth. He put the Pirates on the board in the fourth, crushing a leadoff shot 402 feet to left field for his fifth homer.

Rodriguez also contributed with his glove, turning a nifty double play with shortstop Jordy Mercer to cut down Nick Ahmed and Rickie Weeks Jr. in the third.

"It's been fun to watch him," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's a good player, and he's in a very good place right now mentally and physically."More >
Snapping a streak: After excellent performances in four of his last five starts, De La Rosa could not hold the lead the D-backs gave him. Both of the homers that De La Rosa allowed came on breaking pitches. The five runs he allowed were the most since his first start of the year on April 7.

"I think he was commanding the fastball pretty good and his slider was OK," D-backs catcher Welington Castillo said of De La Rosa. "He was a little inconsistent. He would throw a couple of good ones and then a couple that would hang. He was just a little inconsistent with the slider today." More >
Frozen rope: Freese unloaded on a 2-2 slider from De La Rosa in the fifth, ripping it 451 feet into the Pirates' bullpen. Freese has been reduced to a part-time role since Jung Ho Kang's return, but he made the most of his opportunity Wednesday night. It was Freese's first homer at PNC Park as a Pirate and his third of the season. Somewhat ironically, Freese's blast landed in the glove of reliever Neftali Feliz, who was on the wrong end of Freese's most famous hit in the 2011 World Series.

"I just stayed back and put a good swing on it," Freese said. "It was nice to kind of show up there." More >
Tomas power: The two-run homer by Tomas was his first one since April 26. In the 21 games since the homer, Tomas has just three extra base hits, all of them doubles. He added a two-bagger in the seventh Wednesday.

"Yasmany had a couple of good [at-bats] -- the double to right-center," Hale said. "That was another one that was hit really hard and for a second there it looked like Polanco was going to make the catch. So finally we got one to fall in. But he had a good night for us."
"We were just chatting and having a good time back there. Right when we saw that ball flying our way, I grabbed my glove right away and went and snatched it." -- Feliz, on catching Freese's homer in the bullpen
"It went better because we scored some runs." -- Locke, asked how his start went
With his 457th win as the Pirates' manager, Hurdle tied Hall of Famer Pie Traynor for the sixth-most victories in franchise history. Traynor posted a 457-406 record in six seasons between 1934-39. This is Hurdle's sixth season as Pittsburgh's skipper, and he is 457-398.
This was Locke's 100th career start and the 51st at PNC Park, where he owns a 16-13 record and the Pirates have gone 31-20 behind him.

D-backs:Patrick Corbin gets the start Thursday as the D-backs wrap up the three-game series as well as a six-game road trip at 9:35 a.m. MST. Corbin has been much better on the road (2.01 ERA) than at home (6.48) this year.
Pirates: Coming off a bizarre start in which he threw seven innings of one-run ball but didn't record a strikeout for the first time in his career, right-hander Gerrit Cole will start as the Pirates go for a sweep Thursday at 12:35 p.m. ET. Cole is 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA over his past three starts against the Cardinals, Cubs and Rockies. After two days off, catcher Francisco Cervelli should be back in the lineup.
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