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Pirates blow ninth inning lead to drop third straight

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Josh Harrison recorded three hits and an eighth inning go-ahead RBI in his return from the disabled list, but Felipe Vazquez melted down in the ninth and the Padres took the game and the four game series, beating the Pirates 8-5 Sunday afternoon.

Leading 5-4 in the ninth, Vazquez immediately got into trouble by allowing back to back singles out of the gates. He then got a ground ball straight to Jordy Mercer, but the shortstop threw his feed to second away, causing the tying run to score.

San Diego then capitalized with a run scoring squeeze bunt, a double steal and a two run single by catcher A.J. Ellis.

“Tough to give a team extra outs, especially in the ninth inning,” manager Clint Hurdle said.

Vazquez said he rolled his ankle a bit trying to field the bunt, but that he felt fine after the game. He was not ready to dwell on a rare off-day, though.

“How many games do we have left? A hundred and something?,” Vazquez said. “So just move forward. Forget about what happened today, forget about this series and we’ll go to Cincinnati.”

Francisco Cervelli got the Pirates on the board with a third inning sacrifice fly, but the Padres jumped ahead in the fourth on a two run home run by Christian Villanueva. San Diego pushed their lead to 4-1 in the fifth with an RBI groundout by Manuel Margot and successful suicide squeeze by pitcher Jordan Lyles.

Lyles rolled through the Pirates lineup until the sixth inning, when Austin Meadows and Mercer hit home runs on back to back pitches to tie the game at 4.

Harrison’s eighth inning sacrifice fly gave the Pirates the lead for the final time. It was his first game back since breaking a bone in his right hand on a hit by pitch in Miami in mid-April.

“All things considered, it felt good to be back out there with my boys,” Harrison said.

Pirates’ starter Trevor Williams lasted six innings, allowing four runs on four hits. He struck out five, threw 14 first pitch strikes to his 23 batters faced and retired eight on three pitches or less.

Vazquez falls to 2-1. Kirby Yates gets the win (3-0) despite giving up a run in his only inning. Brad Hand picks up his 14th save of the year.

Austin MeadOPS

Meadows’ sixth inning home run was the first of his career. It was a weekend of firsts for the Pirates’ top rated position player prospect. On Friday, he recorded his first hit and stolen base. On Sunday, his first RBI and run.

“I’m blessed to get this opportunity,” Meadows said. “...It’s definitely surreal elements that happened this weekend, but I’m just being relaxed and going out and play ball.”

Meadows went 5-11 at the plate over his first three games in the majors.

On Deck

The Pirates will be off Monday before heading to Cincinnati Tuesday. Jameson Taillon (2-3, 3.97) will kick-off the three game set against Matt Harvey (0-2, 6.17) Tuesday at 7:10 p.m..


1. Gregory Polanco struck out in the third inning after going ahead 3-0. It’s the first time he has struck out after reaching that count since 2015.

2. This is the first time this year the Pirates have lost after leading through eight innings (21-1).

3. When Vazquez entered the game, the Pirates had an 83.8% win probability projection, according to Fangraphs.com. When he exited the game, it was 2.8%.

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