Walker’s RBI double in 14th lifts Pirates over Tiger 5-4
DETROIT (AP) — It took 10 seasons, 10 teams and more than five hours but Deolis Guerra finally has his first major league win.
In his third game after a long career in the minors, Guerra pitched three shutout innings of relief as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Detroit Tigers 5-4 in 14 innings early Wednesday morning.
“I’ve spent my whole life dreaming about this, and for a long time, I thought it might never happen,” he said. “I didn’t think it would happen at this time of the night.”
The Venezuelan had to face two of his countrymen to finish it off. Miguel Cabrera singled to move Ian Kinsler to second with one out, but Victor Martinez hit into a game-ending double play.
“Those are my heroes,” he said. “Miguel has always been one of my favorite players, and it was an honor to even face him tonight.”
The Pirates took the lead in the 14th despite a massive baserunning mistake. With one out and a runner on first, Josh Harrison doubled, but Gorkys Hernandez retreated, thinking Rajai Davis had made a diving catch.
After being urged on by Harrison, Hernandez then broke for third, but didn’t retouch second, and was out on a Tigers appeal. Neil Walker followed with an RBI double off Tom Gorzelanny (1-2) to make it 5-4, but the Hernandez mistake cost the Pirates a run.
“I didn’t think we were going to get away with that — not once I saw Gorkys take a shortcut back to third,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “Luckily, Neil came up big to save us.”
Detroit trailed 4-2 in the bottom of the eighth, but J.D. Martinez hit his 11th homer of the month off Tony Watson to tie the game.
Neither starter figured in the decision. Justin Verlander allowed three runs in six-plus innings, while Gerrit Cole gave up a pair of runs in 6 1-3 innings.
Verlander struggled badly through the first four innings, allowing six hits, four walks and a hit batter, but the Tigers only trailed 3-0 as Pittsburgh left eight runners on base.
“We just knew we needed to keep getting baserunners and get more of them in,” Hurdle said. “We had to be more productive in those at-bats.”
Verlander now has a 5.09 ERA in his first three starts of the season — he missed the first two-plus months with a triceps injury — and has allowed 27 baserunners in 17 2/3 innings.
Ausmus, though, thought he saw a silver lining in Verlander’s stronger finish.
“I thought he was much better in the last three innings,” he said. “He was too fine early, then started attacking hitters.”
Gregory Polanco’s sacrifice fly made it 1-0 Pirates in the second, and they added two more runs in the third on an error by Miguel Cabrera and a sacrifice fly by Jordy Mercer.
Detroit nearly tied the game in the bottom of the fifth, but after a 4-minute replay review, James McCann’s flyball off the top of the right-field fence was ruled an RBI double instead of a 3-run homer. One run did score on the play, leaving runners on second and third with no one out, but Cole retired the next three hitters without allowing either runner to score.
Kinsler’s RBI double made it 3-2 in the seventh, and brought Jared Hughes out of the bullpen. Hughes retired Cabrera on a broken-bat grounder. Andrew McCutchen gave the Pirates a two-run edge in the eighth with an RBI single off Joba Chamberlain.
Pirates: OF Corey Hart, who has been sidelined since June 22 with a left shoulder injury, began a rehab assignment Tuesday with Triple-A Indianapolis.
Tigers: C Alex Avila played his fourth rehab game with Triple-A Toledo. Avila has been out since May 8 with a knee problem, and while he served as the Mud Hens DH on Tuesday, he is expected to catch on Wednesday.
Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh threw out the first pitch, with Tigers manager Brad Ausmus catching a high fastball. Harbaugh grew up as a Tigers fan and said he would be cheering for Detroit during the game, even though he was sitting in seats provided by Pirates manager and UM fan Clint Hurdle.
The teams play the second of the three-game series Wednesday night, with Detroit’s Alfredo Simon (7-4, 3.57) facing Pittsburgh’s A.J. Burnett (6-3, 2.01). Burnett is 6-3 in 12 career starts against the Tigers, although he lost to Detroit on April 14. In his last two starts, Simon has allowed 12 runs on 14 hits and six walks over nine innings.