Suddenly-surging Padres trip Pirates

July 29th, 2017

SAN DIEGO -- tripled twice, homered, and the suddenly red-hot Padres put another dent in the Pirates' playoff push Saturday night.

San Diego's 4-2 victory -- its fourth straight -- dropped the Bucs 5 1/2 games back of the Cubs in the National League Central race. , whose nasty slider was in full effect, carried a no-hit bid into the fifth inning and was victorious for a second consecutive start. The rookie right-hander allowed two runs on two hits while striking out seven over six-plus frames.

"It wasn't pinpoint command," said Padres manager Andy Green. "We really don't look at him as that type of pitcher anyway. It's stuff over location. And it's [about] trusting that. That stuff's electric enough that if you mix it effectively, it's going to get batters out. It did that."

The Pirates have dropped six of their last seven games, and righty was roughed up in the bottom of the first inning. He allowed two runs on four hits in the frame, though he would settled down a bit and last through five.

tacked on an RBI single in the fourth and Margot added his eighth homer of the season an inning later. He smashed an 0-1 changeup from Nova off the second deck of the Western Metal Building.

"Just missing my pitches. I didn't make pitches when I had to," said Nova, who placed the blame on his control more than his stuff. "They're a young team, really aggressive. They put some good swings on it."

Location issues haunt Nova

The Pirates finally got to Lamet in the seventh, scoring twice. But reliever got to bounce into a pivotal double play with the bases loaded. Two batters later, struck out , ending the threat.

With Brad Hand on the shelf after saving three straight games, cruised through a perfect ninth for his first save since 2014. He struck out a pair and has fanned 54 hitters in 35 1/3 nnings since he was claimed by the Padres in late April.

"He's thrown the ball really well for us," Green said. "He's been another great pickup, in the same way Brad Hand was last year."


No way, Jose: The first of Pirela's two triples got the Padres on the board in the bottom of the first inning. After Margot led off with a single, Pirela smashed a line drive that one-hopped the right-field wall. He would come around to score on 's double. Pirela's third-inning triple made him the 15th Padre with multiple triples in the same game and the first since Nick Hundley did so in 2011. More >>

"It's pretty hard to show what you can do when you're only getting a chance to play every now and then," said Pirela, who has 24 extra-base hits since his June callup. "I think that's it. I am getting that opportunity finally, and I'm able to show what I can do as a player and how I can help the team."

Double trouble: The Pirates didn't touch Lamet until the fifth inning, when Freese broke up his early bid at a no-no with a single. followed suit with a single as well. With two on and nobody out, Cervelli smacked a sharp liner right at second baseman , who doubled Freese off second base. then popped to left, and the Bucs' rally ended as quickly as it began.

"Double plays are pitchers' best friends," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "You're starting to hunt there again. You're starting to get in position to maybe have a big inning. Then you get two outs in one swing, that can be challenging. We do it to other teams. We got it done to ourselves a couple times tonight."


"We just keep hunting. We just keep playing. You don't get concerned about all that other noise, because that's what it is. You've got to take care of your own team. You've got to take care of yourselves. That's what we need to do right now."-- Hurdle, on the Pirates' losing streak and standing in the division


Among qualified relievers, no National League pitcher has a higher swing-and-miss rate than Kirby Yates' 18.1 percent mark this season. But on his two strikeouts Saturday, Freese and Cervelli went down looking. Yates is the sixth different Padre to record a save this season.

The Pirates had five hits, all singles, snapping a streak of 59 straight games with an extra-base hit that dated back to May 22.


Pirates: The Pirates will try to avoid a sweep with on the mound Sunday afternoon at Petco Park. Cole, looking to finish a strong month, is set to start the series finale -- and the Bucs' final game before Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline. Cole has posted a 2.52 ERA in four starts this month, all wins for Pittsburgh. First pitch is scheduled for 4:40 p.m. ET.

Padres: and are expected back from the disabled list Sunday when the Pirates and Padres conclude their three-game set at 1:40 p.m. PT. starts for San Diego, looking to put his recent struggles behind him.

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