ATLANTA -- Pinch-hitting on a scheduled off-day because the Pirates forced extra innings and exhausted their other options, Andrew McCutchen slapped a single to left field leading off the 10th. Chris Stewart then dropped a sacrifice bunt, moving McCutchen to second base.The Pirates were playing for one run at that
ATLANTA -- Pinch-hitting on a scheduled off-day because the Pirates forced extra innings and exhausted their other options, Andrew McCutchen slapped a single to left field leading off the 10th. Chris Stewart then dropped a sacrifice bunt, moving McCutchen to second base.
The Pirates were playing for one run at that point, manager Clint Hurdle said. They got seven, resulting in a 12-5 win over the Braves on Wednesday night at SunTrust Park. Pittsburgh's bats broke out, beating up on reliever Josh Collmenter, which included hitting back-to-back-to-back home runs.
"You can't figure it out. You can't draw it up," Hurdle said. "It's fun to watch."
Less than 24 hours after a ninth-inning rally wasn't enough to win, the Pirates scored two in the ninth off reliever Jose Ramirez to send the game to extras. Mpho' Ngoepe legged out a replay-reversed infield single, and Adam Frazier -- in the middle of everything all night -- swatted a single to left.
Josh Harrison crushed a fly ball to deep center field, but Ender Inciarte made a leaping grab at the wall for the first out. After Josh Bell struck out, David Freese kept the ninth alive by working an eight-pitch walk. Jose Osuna promptly sliced the first pitch he saw into left field for a game-tying, two-run single.
"It looks like our heart's broken," Hurdle said, "and we still answer."
The Pirates claimed the lead in the 10th. With McCutchen on second, Ngoepe lined a cutter from Collmenter down the right-field line. McCutchen scored, and the Pirates exhaled.
"I think you could feel in the dugout when he got that knock to give us the lead, it kind of let a little bit of pressure off the rest of the squad," Harrison said.
And it showed. Collmenter then walked Frazier, putting him on base for the sixth time. Frazier -- now batting .370/.458/.500 -- finished 2-for-2 with four walks, a three-run homer and three runs scored. It was the first time in at least 100 years that a leadoff hitter recorded four walks and two hits, including a homer.
"It's crazy," Hurdle said.
Harrison singled home two runs, giving the Bucs a three-run cushion. After Bell flied out to finish an 0-for-6 night, then came the two-out fireworks.
Freese crushed his fifth homer a Statcast-projected 419 feet to left-center. Osuna blasted a solo shot 411 feet to left. Jordy Mercer blasted a homer for the second night in a row, this one a projected 421 feet to center. All three balls were considered barrels, according to Statcast™.
"Incredible to watch," Ngoepe said.
The Pirates had not hit three consecutive home runs since Sept. 13, 2013, when Pedro Alvarez (inside the park), Russell Martin and Garrett Jones did so against Jacob Arrieta at PNC Park.
"I think all the years I've been in the Major Leagues, that's the second time I've seen back-to-back-to-back home runs," Hurdle said.
McCutchen, batting for the second time, struck out to end the inning. There was no Braves comeback this time, either, as Wade LeBlanc finished the game with a perfect frame.
The Pirates have been one of the Majors' least effective offensive teams this season, limited by injuries, absences and slumps. After coming up short Tuesday night, when their 6-5 loss dragged into Wednesday morning, they again proved they won't go down without a fight.
"We're not quitting until that last out," Harrison said. "If you give us a little breathing room, we're going to try to take advantage of it."
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.