Polanco, Pirates beat Padres 5-4 for 8th win in 9 games

Imperial Valley Press - - SPORTS -

PITTS­BURGH ( AP) — The Pitts­burgh Pirates weren’t ex­pected to con­tend in the strong NL Cen­tral this sea­son, es­pe­cially af­ter trad­ing stars Andrew McCutchen and Ger­rit Cole in Jan­uary.

Yet the Pirates are on top of a divi­sion in which four of the five teams are at least four games over .500.

Gre­gory Polanco led off the sev­enth in­ning with a dou­ble and scored the go-ahead run on an er­ror, lead­ing the Pirates over the San Diego Padres 5-4 Thurs­day night for their eighth win in nine games.

Polanco took third on Francisco Cervelli’s deep fly­ball, then came home when rookie third base­man Chris­tian Vil­lanueva mis­played Corey Dick­er­son’s two-out grounder.

Pitts­burgh ( 26- 17) moved nine games over .500.

“You re­ally can’t pre­dict base­ball,” Dick­er­son said. “Ev­ery year you have teams that have good sea­sons when they aren’t ex­pected to, play­ers who no one knows about who end up hav­ing big years. You just never know in this game. We’re play­ing very well, and we feel like we have a very good team.”

Pitts­burgh’s Josh Bell and Sean Ro­driguez each had two hits.

Eric Hos­mer drove in three runs for San Diego. Freddy Galvis had two hits be­fore be­ing ejected by home plate um­pire Will Lit­tle af­ter tak­ing a called third strike from Michael Feliz to end the eighth in­ning.

Rookie Edgar San­tana (2-0) re­tired the only bat­ter he faced, get­ting Jose Pirela to ground out to end the sev­enth with a run­ner on sec­ond. He was cred­ited with an­other win a day af­ter notch­ing his first ma­jor league vic­tory against the Chicago White Sox.

“It’s fun to get a chance to pitch in those sit­u­a­tions,” San­tana said. “The hit­ters are up look­ing for RBIs and you know they are go­ing to try a lit­tle ex­tra hard to drive in the run. I try to use that to my ad­van­tage and stay calm.”

Felipe Vazquez worked a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his ninth save in as many op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Matt Strahm (0-1) took the loss.

“He did ev­ery­thing he had to do to get the ground­ball to get out of that in­ning,” San Diego man­ager Andy Green. “We didn’t make the play for him there.”

Both starters were chased in the fifth in­ning as Padres rookie left­hander Eric Lauer and Chad Kuhl al­lowed four runs and six hits each.

“I had some trou­ble pitch­ing out of the stretch and that hurt me,” Kuhl said.

The Pirates tied the score at 4 on Bell’s RBI sin­gle in the fifth. Hos­mer hit a two-run dou­ble in the top of the in­ning.

The Padres opened the scor­ing with a two- run third as Travis Jankowski hit an RBI sin­gle and Hos­mer drove into a run with a grounder.

The Pirates an­swered with three runs in the fourth. Dick­er­son dou­bled in a run, David Freese hit a sac­ri­fice fly and Ro­driguez capped the in­ning with an RBI dou­ble.

AP PHOTO/KEITH SRAKOCIC

Pitts­burgh Pirates’ Sean Ro­driguez (right) slides into sec­ond with a dou­ble ahead of the tag by San Diego Padres sec­ond base­man Jose Pirela dur­ing the fourth in­ning of a base­ball game Thurs­day in Pitts­burgh. Ro­driguez drove in Corey Dick­er­son with the...

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