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Pirates down D-Backs with five-run rally in eighth

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Lyle Overbay hit a three-run double to cap a five-run eighth inning and the Pirates rallied for an 8-5 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night. Jose Tabata had an RBI double and Josh Harrison an RBI single before Overbay's line drive to right-center with the bases loaded.

The Pirates turned a two-run deficit into a three-run lead in the eighth inning against the Diamondbacks Tuesday night, spoiling a stellar start by Dan Hudson by tearing into reliever David Hernandez. Lyle Overbay lifted the Bucs to an 8-5 victory, banging a three-run double off Hernandez with the bases loaded to complete the rally.

Pittsburgh (29-30) entered to bottom of the eighth inning down 5-3, having managed just three hits against Hudson. The right-hander struck out seven batters, walked one and gave up just one earned run, as a Juan Miranda error in the second inning opened the door for a pair of unearned Pirates runs.

Hernandez (2-2), who entered the game with a 1.65 ERA, was on the losing end of an eight-pitch at-bat against pinch-hitter Garrett Jones to start the big eighth inning. Jones doubled to right-center and Jose Tabata followed with a double off the Clemente Wall to narrow the Diamondbacks' lead to one run.

That brought up Josh Harrison, who started at second base in place of Neil Walker. The rookie bunted a 96 MPH fastball from Harrison foul down the third base line. Third base coach Nick Leyva gave him the bunt sign again and Harrison squared for another attempt, but he pulled back as Hernandez spotted a curveball for strike two.

With the bunt no longer an option, Harrison swung away. He knocked a curveball into center field on the next pitch, plating Tabata to knot the score at 5-5.

"Give Josh some credit," Pirates manager Hurdle said. "He closed the book on the bunt but was able to find a hole in the infield and put the ball in play."

"It shows how quickly things can change," Harrison said. "I was put in a position where I had to get a guy over and I didn't get that done. But I just battled. It's just one of those things where you stick with the game and see where it takes you."

Xavier Paul put down a sac bunt that dribbled in front of the plate. Arizona catcher Miguel Montero scooped it up and tried to get the lead runner, but Harrison slid in safe at second. McCutchen then walked on four straight pitches, bringing Overbay to the plate with the bases full.

Hernandez missed with three straight fastballs off the outside corner to Overbay, then hit the zone with an inside heater at the knees.

On the 3-1 count, Overbay jumped on another fastball in nearly the same spot and cleared the bases by driving the pitch to the right-center field gap.

"He [Hernandez] threw the 3-0 down and in, and I was just looking for something down," Overbay said. "I was like, 'Oh, I hope he throws that one again,' and he came pretty close."

"We were able to strike early on some balls that were centered up on the plate," Hurdle said. "I think sometimes you score a quick run and then you get down 0-2, a guy doesn't get a bunt down, but then he works a single through the infield and you tie the game. Now, all of the sudden everybody becomes Superman. You've got a whole different attitude going for how the game can go."

Hernandez failed to retire a single batter while getting battered for four hits, one walk and five earned runs. The Diamondbacks (33-28) had an 85 percent chance of winning the game when Hernandez stepped on the mound, according to the website Fangraphs.com. After Hernandez was pulled, Arizona had a two percent chance of claiming victory.

Joel Hanrahan earned his 15th save of the season in the ninth, striking out Kelly Johnson and Justin Upton swinging and getting Stephen Drew to pop up to end the game. Chris Resop, who came in for Evan Meek in the eighth with runners on first and second and struck out Ryan Roberts to end the inning, improved to 2-1.

The Pirates' comeback bailed out an uncharacteristically wild Kevin Correia. The Bucs' starter was tagged for four earned runs in five innings pitched, striking out three D-backs while walking two, uncorking a wild pitch and serving up solo home runs to Kelly Johnson (2-for-5 on the night) and Juan Miranda, who had a career-best four hits on Tuesday.

Pittsburgh entered the top of the fifth with a 3-1 lead, but Correia allowed three runs in the inning. Miranda went deep over the Clemente wall and Johnson hit a two RBI single to center later on to give the Diamondbacks the advantage. Meek allowed a solo home run to Chris Young in the top of the eighth.

"I don't think [Correia] was ever really on a roll with his stuff," Hurdle said. "He was up in the zone a lot tonight. He was really battling most of the night. He did have the one shut-down inning [Correia retired the D-Backs in order in the third] and there looked like there were some sequences where you thought, 'OK, here we go,' but then it seemed like he was behind in a lot of counts."

Correia threw 48 of his 85 pitches for strikes (56 percent). The home run he served up to Johnson in the first inning came on a 3-1 fastball that Correia left in the middle of the plate. Miranda's shot in the fifth was on a belt-high, 3-2 slider.

"We won the game," Correia said. "That's the point. You're not going to go out there every time and pitch great. I'm just trying to go out there and give us a chance to win. Obviously it's nice for me to get wins, but as long as we're winning the game, I'm doing my job."

"They're just battling and playing the game," Hurdle said. "I think they're understanding how much the little things can help, how much putting the ball in play can help and how much just stretching out pitch counts [can help]. You get to the bullpen, and you never know what can happen."

"It's definitely a new team from last year," McCutchen said. "We play a hard nine innings -- that's what we've been doing this whole season."

WATSON IN, ASCANIO OUT
Following Sunday's loss to the Phillies, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said that "We might need to look at re-arranging our bullpen a little bit. We're facing a lot of teams with a lot of left-handers, and the one left-hander out there [Daniel Moskos] is not really as many options as I'd like to have."

Prior to Tuesday's game, the Pirates added a second lefty to Hurdle's bullpen by recalling Tony Watson from Triple-A Indianapolis. Watson, 26, was selected out of Nebraska in the ninth round of the 2007 MLB draft. He began his career in the Pirates' organization as a starter but became a full-time reliever at Indianapolis this season.

The 6-4, 220 pound Watson had a 29/11 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 2.45 ERA in 29.1 Triple-A innings. While he had a 4/4 K/BB ratio and had surrendered five runs in 8.2 IP against lefties in 2011, he shut down same-handed hitters at Double-A Altoona last season. Watson struck out 43 and walked just five in 49.1 frames against lefties with the Curve.

To make room for Watson on the active roster, the Pirates designated RHP Jose Ascanio for assignment. The 26-year-old, acquired along with Josh Harrison and Kevin Hart in the July 2009 trade that sent Tom Gorzelanny and John Grabow to Chicago, didn't throw a major league pitch for the Pirates in 2010 while rehabbing from shoulder surgery and began the 2011 season on the DL with an elbow injury.

Ascanio made his 2011 debut for the Bucs on May 13 and has since thrown 6.1 innings, striking out five and walking two while surrendering five runs. He averaged 93-94 MPH with his fastball prior to shoulder surgery, but Ascanio has thrown his heat at an average of 92.5 MPH in 2011. Ascanio must now pass through waivers to remain in the Pirates' organization, a likely scenario given his injury woes and poor performance since being activated.

MANO E MANO
A test of top-shelf tools happened in the fourth inning Tuesday, as Diamondbacks left fielder Gerardo Parra's arm faced Andrew McCutchen's wheels. Parra appeared to get the best of McCutchen, but a controversial ruling went in the Bucs' favor.

McCutchen smoked a ground-rule double to left-center off Hudson to lead off the bottom of the fourth and advanced to third base on a Lyle Overbay fly out. Chris Snyder hit a medium-depth line-drive to Parra, who charged, made the catch and prepared for a showdown with McCutchen, who tagged up at third.

Parra's throw to home plate had drone-like precision, beating McCutchen, and Arizona catcher Miguel Montero applied the tag as McCutchen slid in. But home plate umpire Dan Iassogna ruled that Montero bobbled the ball, though it didn't leave his glove, and called McCutchen safe.

WALKER SITS
As expected, Pirates second baseman Neil Walker got the night off on Tuesday. Walker had started all but one of the Bucs' first 58 games this season.

Josh Harrison made his first career start at second base and batted second in Walker's place. Andrew McCutchen shifted to the clean up spot and Xavier Paul batted third while playing right field. Paul, claimed off waivers from the Dodgers in late April, has started four of the past five games.

GIBSON, VASQUEZ SUSPENDED
Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson wasn't in the dugout Tuesday night as he served a one-game suspension and was fined for his actions during Sunday's game versus the Washington Nationals. Alan Trammel replaced him at the helm.

Both teams were issued a warning in the top of the fifth inning after Washington's Jayson Werth was plunked by a pitch from Ian Kennedy. Nationals starter Jason Marquis and manager Jim Riggleman were ejected in the sixth when Justin Upton was drilled in the back. D-Backs reliever Esmerling Vasquez then beaned Washington's Danny Espinosa in the eighth, at which point Vasquez and Gibson were given the heave-ho.

Vasquez was suspended for three games and fined, but he appealed the ruling and came on in relief of Hernandez on Tuesday.

MISSING A GEAR
During his All-Star 2010 season, Evan Meek's fastball zipped to home plate at an average of 95.1 MPH. He hasn't shown that extra gear on the pitch this season, however.

Meek, who served a DL stint earlier in the season with right shoulder tendinitis, threw his fastball at an average speed of 91.9 MPH during his 1.2 inning appearance versus the Diamondbacks on Tuesday. He gave up four hits, including a towering home run to left field off the bat of Arizona's Chris Young.

Meek is averaging 93 MPH with his fastball overall in 2011, and just  91.1 MPH since he came off the DL on May 24.

FLASHING LEATHER
The Pirates rank tenth in the major leagues in Defensive Efficiency, which measures the percentage of balls put in play against a team that are converted into outs. Pittsburgh placed dead last in Defensive Efficiency in 2010. Arizona is also showing more range this season, climbing from 16th in the category last year to sixth in 2011.

ON DECK
The Pirates welcome an old friend back to PNC Park Wednesday night, as LHP Zach Duke (1-1, 3.00 ERA) takes on LHP Paul Maholm (2-7, 3.66 ERA). Duke, a former 20th-round draft pick who pitched for the Pirates from 2005-2010, was traded to the Diamondbacks this past offseason for RHP Cesar Valdez. He began the year on the DL after suffering a broken left hand when he was struck by a comebacker during spring training.

Duke's most statistically comparable player is none other than Maholm, according to Baseball-Reference. The lefties' career numbers are fairly similar. Duke has 4.7 strikeouts per nine innings, 2.4 BB/9, a 49 percent ground ball rate and a 4.52 ERA in the majors. Maholm has 5.6 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, a 52 percent ground ball rate and a 4.42 ERA.

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