After Andrew McCutchen recorded 3 hits and 3 RBI’s and Jordy Mercer went 4-for-5, Pittsburgh Pirates closer Mark Melancon had to hold off a Texas Rangers surge as the Pirates defeated the Rangers 5-4 in a game played Tuesday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas.
With the Bucs leading 5-2 entering the bottom of the ninth inning, Melancon struck out the first two batters he faced before allowing four consecutive hits and two runs. Melancon then struck out Adrian Beltre to end the game and earn his 13th save.
The win kept Pittsburgh (83-61) within one game of first-place St. Louis in the National League Central Division, and moved them two games ahead of third-place Cincinnati. The Pirates are a Major League-best 14-5 in interleague play with one more game left in Texas.
McCutchen tallied three RBI singles, and is now hitting .326. Gaby Sanchez singled home a run. Marlon Byrd scored on a wild pitch.
Pirates starter Francisco Liriano (16-7; 2.92 ERA) added to his career-best season win total, working six hits, surrendering only one run and six hits, striking out five batters and walking two. Melancon’s earned run average “soared” from 0.85 to 1.12.
By the time the game was completed, however, Texas (81-63) led 13-12 in base hits. Alex Rios went 3-for-5 with an RBI, Ian Kinsler was 2-for-5 with two RBI’s and Beltre provided two hits and a run-batted-in.
The Texas starter, rookie southpaw Martin Perez had a personal 6-game winning streak snapped. Perez (9-4; 3.60 ERA) left the game after five innings, having allowed four runs and nine hits with two strikeouts and two walks.
In the season finale in Arlington on Wednesday afternoon, the Pirates will be trying for a sweep and a 5-4 road trip. The Bucs will send A.J. Burnett (7-10; 3.31 ERA) against Rangers veteran Matt Garza (9-4: 4.31 ERA), who is 3-3 since being acquired in a trade deadline deal with the Chicago Cubs.