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June 13, 2013

Marte sparks Pirates past Giants

PITTSBURGH — Starling Marte had a career-high four hits and scored four times and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the San Francisco Giants 12-8 on Wednesday night.

Neil Walker and Alex Presley homered for Pittsburgh. Jordy Mercer, Andrew McCutchen and Gaby Sanchez had three hits each as the Pirates set season highs for both runs and hits.

Francisco Liriano (5-2) survived six erratic innings to pick up the win.

Joaquin Arias knocked in three runs for the Giants and Hunter Pence doubled twice but San Francisco continued to struggle on the road. The defending World Series champions have lost 12 of 16 away from home.

Barry Zito (4-5) allowed eight runs and 11 hits in 4 2-3 innings as his ERA on the road ballooned to 11.28.

The veteran left-hander struggled all night against Marte, Mercer and McCutchen, the top third of Pittsburgh’s lineup. The trio combined to go 8 for 9 against Zito, touching the 2002 Cy Young Winner for a run in the first and keying a three-run rally in the third and a four-run outburst in the fifth.

Marte had cooled off since a strong April and entered the night just 11 for 60 (.183) in his past 16 games, dropping his batting average to .279.

He had little trouble pecking away at Zito’s looping curveball, slapping three singles to set the table for a Pirates offense that appears to be rounding into form.

A night after Pittsburgh lit up San Francisco in an 8-2 win in support of rookie pitcher Gerrit Cole, the Pirates kept it going.

McCutchen hit a two-run double in the third as the Pirates took a 4-1 lead. The Giants responded to briefly to tie the game on a two-run double by Arias in the top of the fifth.

It didn’t stay knotted long. Marte and Mercer led off the bottom of the inning with consecutive singles.

Marte scored on a fielder’s choice and Pedro Alvarez chased Zito for good with a double off the wall in right. Walker greeted reliever Jose Mijares with a two-run single and the Pirates were in control.

Pittsburgh’s lead grew to 10-4 after Presley’s pinch-hit homer and an RBI double by Gaby Sanchez, but the Giants hung in there on a night manager Bruce Bochy watched from the clubhouse.

Bochy was suspended one game and reliever George Kontos was suspended three games and fined after Kontos threw at Marte and McCutchen late in the loss on Tuesday night. Kontos was sent down to Triple-A before the suspension was announced.

San Francisco pulled within 11-8 after Buster Posey’s two-run single off Tony Watson in the eighth but Sanchez doubled in McCutchen in the bottom of the inning. Closer Jason Grilli worked a perfect ninth in a rare non-save situation.

Liriano lacked the firepower of his past two starts, when he combined for 19 strikeouts. The left-hander struck out just two and walked three while tying his season high with four runs allowed.

NOTES: Cole, who went 6 1-3 innings in his major league debut on Tuesday, will start again on Sunday when the Pirates host the Los Angeles Dodgers ... San Francisco 2B Tony Abreu went 3 for 5 in his first start of the season. Abreu started in place of Marco Scutaro, who is out indefinitely after taking a pitch off the pinky finger of his left hand on Tuesday ...  Bochy said injured 3B Pablo Sandoval had a “hop in his step” the day after being placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained tendon in his left foot. Sandoval was hitting .289 at the time of the injury ... Pittsburgh RHP Charlie Morton makes his first start since having Tommy John surgery a year ago on Thursday when he starts in the series finale.

Hurdle indicated Morton won’t have much time to get his feet set with starters Wandy Rodriguez and Jeanmar Gomez on the mend from forearm tightness. Matt Cain (4-3, 5.09) starts for the Giants.

 

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