The Times West Virginian

Sports

April 11, 2013

D-backs roll past Bucs, 10-2

PHOENIX — Since his days at Notre Dame ended and he turned pro, A.J. Pollock had rarely hit a home run and never two in a game.

He was a slugger on Wednesday, though, knocking two over the left-field wall off Jonathan Sanchez to lead the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 10-2 rout of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pollock began the day in an 0-for-14 rut. He also made a diving catch in center field to rob Andrew McCutchen in the first inning as the Diamondbacks salvaged the third game of the series after dropping the first two.

Wade Miley (2-0) allowed two runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings.

Sanchez (0-2) was charged with nine runs and eight hits in 3 1-3 innings. The last two of those runs came after Sanchez left and reliever Chris Leroux walked two batters, on four pitches each, with the bases loaded in the Diamondbacks’ four-run fourth.

Pollock, a long shot to make the opening day roster before spring training injuries to Adam Eaton and Cody Ross, hit a three-run homer in the second and a leadoff shot in the fourth. He had two home runs in 81 big league at-bats last season and only 14 in three seasons in the minors.

But, manager Kirk Gibson said, Pollock has some power, especially against left-handers.

“You get the ball up like that on him and he has the ability to hit it out of the ballpark,” Gibson said.

Pollock said he has more pop in his bat than people think.

“ For me, hitting home runs is not about power,” he said. “It’s about hitting the ball correctly and your approach at the plate. It’s 340 feet down the line. It’s not like you need to hit it 600 feet to hit it out. It’s more about getting the right pitch and taking the right swing in the right count.”

Pollock was moved up to the No. 2 spot in the batting order. He was 3 for 17 (.176) entering the game and hadn’t gotten a hit since opening day.

“Just a hunch I had,” Gibson said.

It made the manager look like a genius. Pollock doubled down the left-field line with one out in the first, then took off trying to steal third while Sanchez still had the ball. Instead of what should have been an easy out, Sanchez threw wildly to third and Pollock scored.

It set the stage for what was to follow.

“You make a baseball play in the first inning, I don’t know how (the game) turns out,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “It has a chance to be different, though. We make a throw to third, we get the out there, who knows?”

Sanchez was nowhere near as effective as he was in his first start, when he allowed three runs and five hits in five-plus innings in a 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“We have 30 starts out of the year,” he said. “We’re going to have bad outings and we’re going to have good outings. You’ve just got to focus on the next one.”

Martin Prado followed Sanchez’s error with a walk, advanced to third on Paul Goldschmidt’s single and scored when Miguel Montero grounded out. Alfredo Marte brought home the inning’s third run with a two-out double.

In the second, there was more trouble for Sanchez. Josh Wilson reached on a walk and Gerardo Parra singled before Pollock homered into the left-field seats to make it 6-0.

Miley, runner-up in NL Rookie of the Year voting last season, had his second strong outing in as many tries.

“I was getting ahead of guys early,” he said. “I went to the slider a couple of times. Mainly it’s about getting ahead and controlling at-bats. They were putting the ball in play, and the defense was making plays.”

Miley retired 10 in a row after Starling Marte opened the game with a double. The string ended when McCutchen walked with one out in the fourth. Gaby Sanchez singled and Josh Harrison had an RBI single.

Pollock’s second homer made it 7-1. Sanchez walked Goldschmidt and gave up a one-out single to Montero before getting pulled by Hurdle.

Leroux came on and promptly walked three straight. Another run scored on Miley’s groundout and Arizona led 10-1 through four innings.

NOTES: Arizona 2B Aaron Hill got a day off after being hit in the left hand by a pitch Tuesday night. X-rays were negative and he hopes to return Friday night. ... The Pirates, 2-4 on their road trip, return home to open a weekend series against Cincinnati on Friday. Arizona has Thursday off, then begins a three-game home series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday. ... Starling Marte had a hit to lead off all three games against Arizona.

 

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