ST. PETERSBURG — The lightning and thunder that is the Pirates speed and power showed up again Tuesday at Tropicana Field, yet that dynamic duo did not ruin the Rays evening as much as the Pirates ability to do the little things.
There was a sacrifice bunt that set up one run and a sacrifice fly that drove in another. Also, a single with runners on the corners and a two-out single that followed a two-out double.
In the end, that was enough to withstand a late comeback by the Rays.
It was the Pirates 6, Rays 5 in a game that ended when Evan Longoria flied out to center field after Brandon Guyer’s two-run single pulled the Rays to within a run.
The Rays have lost two straight after winning three of four over the weekend against the Astros to take a little momentum into this week. The Pirates, winners of 10 of their last 15, put a halt to that.
Chris Archer, who entered the game with a 0.89 ERA in his last seven starts, allowed four earned runs (five overall) in his seven innings.
Most of the damage came during a three-run fourth inning that saw Gregory Polanco move Pedro Alvarez (walk) and Jordy Mercer (infield single) to second and third with a bunt.
From there is was singles by Sterling Marte and Andrew McCutchen and a sacrifice fly that put the Pirates up 4-0.
They had taken a 1-0 lead in the first with Polanco drew a leadoff walk, stole second and advanced to third when Jose Molina’s throw sailed into center field. Archer retired the next three batters, two on strikeouts. But a grounder to second by McCutchen with one out and the infield back scored Polanco.
The Rays got a run in the fifth inning when Logan Forsythe drove a ball to right field that Polanco lost in the roof. Forsythe continued to third with a triple. Molina followed with a grounder down the left field line that became an RBI double. It was Molina’s first extra-base hit and second RBI of the season.
The Pirates extended their lead to four in the top of the sixth with a two-out double by Ike Davis doubled and a single by Josh Harrison.
Archer pitched one more inning – the seventh – and struck out two of the last three batters he faced. Archer finished with seven strikeouts.
The Pirates added another run in the eighth on Russell Martin’s fourth home run of the season.
The Rays had opportunities early but the double play, which has plagued them all season, came into play in the first and second innings.
Ben Zobrist followed a leadoff walk by Desmond Jennings in the first inning by grounding into a 5-4-3 double play.
It was Yunel Escobar’s turn the following inning when he followed a one-out single by James Loney with a 6-4-3 double play.
That brought the Rays total of double plays hit into to five this series and 73 this season.
The Rays made a run in the eighth inning when Guyer doubled off Pirates starter Jeff Locke with one out. Longoria followed with a two-run homer to cut the Pirates lead in half to 6-3.
It was Longoria’s 10th homer of the season. He’s the first Ray to reach double-digits in home runs, and it came during the team’s 79th game of the season.
Longoria chased Locke with his homer. Right-hander Jared Hughes came in to face Loney and Loney singled to left field.
Kevin Kiermaier was announced as the pinch-hitter for Escobar. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle called on left-hander Tony Watson. With only one right-handed bat on the bench – Ryan Hanigan, who was scratched from the lineup because of a stiff neck – Maddon had no choice but to let Kiermaier face the lefty. Kiermaier struck out. Sean Rodriguez fouled out to end the inning.
Forsythe opened the ninth with a single against Mark Melancon.