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Pirates rout D-backs behind Polanco's 5 RBIs

May 24, 2016

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates roughed up right-hander Shelby Miller, pounded out 17 hits and rode a scoreless bullpen performance to a 12-1 victory over the D-backs on Tuesday night at PNC Park, their seventh win in their last nine games.Led by Gregory Polanco's three hits and career-high five RBIs, Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates roughed up right-hander Shelby Miller, pounded out 17 hits and rode a scoreless bullpen performance to a 12-1 victory over the D-backs on Tuesday night at PNC Park, their seventh win in their last nine games.
Led by Gregory Polanco's three hits and career-high five RBIs, Pittsburgh put up a quartet of three-run innings. The Pirates sent 13 men to the plate in the series opener, and 11 of them recorded at least one hit. The exceptions? Pinch-hitter Sean Rodriguez and reliever Arquimedes Caminero, who grounded into a force out in his first Major League plate appearance.
"We fight together as a team, as a family," Polanco said. "That's what we do."
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Miller continued to struggle, allowing six runs on eight hits and four walks in five innings. The right-hander fell to 1-6 on the year and saw his ERA climb to 7.09. Most of the damage came on two hits: Polanco's three-run homer in the first inning and shortstop Jordy Mercer's two-run double to center in the third.

"We played well today. Lot of fun, especially when you can move the lineup like we did with really good, quality at-bats," Mercer said. "Everybody was driving in runs. Everybody was getting on base, doing whatever we could and crossing the plate as many times as we could. It was a lot of fun."

Pirates left-hander Francisco Liriano survived a late loss of control, holding Arizona to one run on two hits and five walks in 5 2/3 innings. Reliever Jared Hughes helped Liriano escape a bases-loaded jam in the sixth.

Caminero was ejected after hitting two D-backs in the head, as both dugouts had been warned following Evan Marshall's seventh-inning plunking of David Freese.

Hot Coffee: The Pirates immediately got to Miller, as John Jaso walked and Andrew McCutchen singled to lead off the first inning. That brought up Polanco, who hammered a full-count fastball 398 feet to right-center for his sixth home run. Last season, Polanco's sixth homer came on Aug. 7.
"When he gets [his swing] extended, the ball jumps off his bat," Mercer said. "It's fun to watch." More >

Big innings hurt Miller again: When Miller gives up runs they tend to come in multiples. On Tuesday, he allowed a pair of three-run innings and has now allowed multiple-run innings in all but one of his 10 starts this year.
"It's crazy," Miller said. "I'm not near as bad a pitcher as the numbers I'm putting up. If the game was easy, I guess everybody would play it. It's one of those things where I'm not pitching well. Bottom line is, I'm falling behind in counts and giving up big innings and just kind of putting us in a hole.
"I feel mechanically good. It's just not really going our way right now. It's my fault. I'm definitely not pitching near as good as I can.I'm going to push as hard as I can to figure this out."

One pitch, one out: Liriano lost command of the strike zone in the sixth inning, walking three batters -- including two in a row on eight consecutive balls, one of them forcing in a run -- and forcing manager Clint Hurdle to go to his bullpen. With two outs and the bases loaded, Hurdle summoned Hughes. The struggling right-hander did his job, throwing one pitch -- a 92-mph sinker -- and inducing an inning-ending groundout from Brandon Drury.

Scary moment(s): D-backs second baseman Jean Segura was hit in the helmet by a 96-mph fastball from Caminero in the seventh. Segura left the field under his own power. Marshall hit Freese in the shoulder in the bottom half of the inning and home-plate umpire Larry Vanover issued warnings to both teams. One inning later, Caminero hit shortstop Nick Ahmed in the chin with a pitch. Ahmed walked to first where he was removed from the game while Caminero and Hurdle were ejected.
"Can't get inside of the guy's head," D-backs manager Chip Hale said when asked if he thought either of Caminero's pitches were intentional. "Neither can an umpire, so that's why [you] issue warnings and if you hit anybody you've got to go. It's unfortunate, Jean's at the hospital now getting a scan to see if he's OK and Nick got hit right on the chin. So it's not good. There's no place for it in the game." More >

"We got back to doing what we're good at. I think we've carried that through the homestand. This might be the stretch like you saw last year where we finally figured out some things and get to playing the time of baseball like we're used to." -- Catcher Chris Stewart, on the Bucs' seven-of-nine stretch that began with Gerrit Cole shutting down the Cubs on May 15
After an RBI single in the third inning, Liriano is batting .348 (8-for-23) this season. In his last 24 starts, dating back to July 12, Liriano is batting .315 (17-for-54) with three doubles, a home run and 11 RBIs, while the Pirates have posted a 20-4 record. So there was reason for Stewart to be amused when Miller intentionally walked him to face Liriano.
"It's just amazing. I was surprised they walked me to get to him," Stewart said. "That's probably going to be the last time we see that this year."

After his leadoff walk in the first, Jaso was picked off first base by catcher Welington Castillo and first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. But Hurdle challenged the call, and the replay showed that Jaso evaded Goldschmidt's tag as he reached out to touch the bag. The out call was overturned after a one-minute, 40-second review.

D-backs:Rubby De La Rosa will start Wednesday at 4:05 p.m. MST in the second game of the series, his first start since allowing just one run and one hit over 6 1/3 innings against the Giants on May 15. De La Rosa had his turn in the rotation skipped with the D-backs having two off-days in a five-day span.
Pirates: Left-hander Jeff Locke will try to put together another quality start as the Pirates continue their three-game series against the D-backs on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Locke has pitched at least six innings in four of his last five starts, allowing three runs of fewer in each of those four outings -- and the Bucs are in need of innings as they begin a stretch of 21 games in 21 days.
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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @adamdberry.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.