Held to just four hits, the Pittsburgh Pirates (12-19) were unable to complete a three-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays (14-17), losing 7-2 to the Jays on Sunday afternoon at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
Colby Rasmus punched a grand slam for Toronto, while Melky Cabrera hit a two-run shot. Dustin McGowan (2-1) earned the win, holding the Pirates to one run and three hits with five strikeouts and three walks through seven innings.
Josh Harrison tripled twice and scored both times for the Bucs. Harrison scored on a first-inning ground ball by Neil Walker and an eighth-inning sacrifice fly by Andrew McCutchen. Pittsburgh starter Edinson Volquez (1-3) took the loss after allowing six runs for the second straight start.
The Pirates won the first two games of the series in come-from behind fashion. In an 8-6 win on Saturday night, the Bucs tied the game with four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, and won on a two-run double by Walker in the eighth frame. Walker, Harrison and Clint Barmes each recorded two hits. Brian Morris (3-0) earned the win in a relief role, and Mark Melancon tallied his first save of the year.
Jose Bautista homered for the Blue Jays.
Pittsburgh won Friday’s series opener 6-5 on the strength of two homers in the bottom of the ninth inning. With the Pirates trailing 5-3, Walker hit a leadoff single, and Pedro Alvarez tied the game with a two-run home run. Starling Marte would win the game with a walkoff shot, giving the win to reliever Melancon (1-1).
Marte went 4-for-5, Walker and McCutchen both had three hits, and Alvarez and Tony Sanchez both recorded a pair of hits. With Pittsburgh finishing with 17 hits, the Bucs should have dominated early, but they hit into three double plays and stranded ten baserunners.
Rasmus homered for the Blue Jays.
On Monday night, the Pirates will begin a three-game home series against the San Francisco Giants (20-11), who lead the National League West and have won five games in a row. Both teams are expected to start “AAA” call-ups with Jeff Locke set to pitch for Pittsburgh. San Francisco has penciled in Jake Dunning, who will replace Matt Cain, who apparently sliced the index finger of his pitching hand while preparing a sandwich.