Wigginton Gets The Big Hit In Rockies Win
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Same score. Same hitter. Same situation. Same third baseman.
This time, Ty Wigginton’s shot got by Pedro Alvarez.
One night after he was robbed by Pittsburgh’s third baseman on a rocket down the left-field line with the bases loaded in a game that would go 14 innings, Wigginton came through with a three-run double in the eighth, giving the first-place Rockies a 6-4 victory Saturday night.
“The at-bat we needed to get, we got,” said relieved Colorado manager Jim Tracy. “If he (Alvarez) had come up with that, it would have been heartbreaking.”
Wigginton’s tiebreaking double and a strong outing from Greg Reynolds, making his first start for Colorado since 2008, gave the Rockies their second win of the series and kept them atop the NL West four straight days for the first time since 2006.
With the bases loaded, Wigginton ripped his shot off reliever Jose Veras (0-1) and past Alvarez into the left-field corner. On Friday night, Alvarez made a backhanded stab on an eerily similar smash by Wigginton, bounced to his feet and threw out Colorado’s first baseman.
“I’m just glad I was able to get one by him today,” said Wigginton, signed by the Rockies as a free agent in December. “At first, when I saw it going toward him and he was diving for it, my thought was ‘uh-oh.’ But it got by him and I’ll take it.”
At 5-2, the Rockies have tied the 1998 team for the second-best start in franchise history.
Both of Colorado’s losses have been in extra innings, including a 4-3 setback in 14 on Friday, when Tracy was forced to use eight pitchers, including closer Huston Street for three innings.
Matt Belisle (1-0), who has pitched in all three games of the series, got the win and Matt Lindstrom worked the ninth for his first save, getting Steve Pearce to hit into a game-ending double play.
But the late-inning heroics may not have been possible if not for Reynolds, the former first-round pick who hasn’t lived up to expectations because of a series of shoulder problems and an elbow injury sustained in spring training last year.
Earlier this week, the 25-year-old said it was time for him “to put up or shut up.”
He put up, but was pulled after 88 pitches by Tracy. Reynolds allowed two runs and three hits, a more-than-respectable-clutch outing for the right-hander, who was called up because ace Ubaldo Jimenez is on the disabled list.
“Greg really stepped up,” Belisle said.
Seth Smith homered for the Rockies, lining a shot over the right-field wall that nearly rolled into a boat in the Allegheny River.
Ryan Doumit hit a two-run homer and Jose Tabata had a solo shot for Pittsburgh. The Pirates’ bullpen was also short-handed, forcing manager Clint Hurdle to use starter Kevin Correia in the ninth. Pittsburgh’s offense, which has yet to break out, generated few scoring chances.
With the score tied 3-all, Veras walked Jonathan Herrera to open the eighth and Carlos Gonzalez followed with his third single. Veras struck out Troy Tulowitzki with a knee-buckling curveball and also fanned Smith, but hit Jose Lopez with a pitch to load the bases.
Wigginton then jumped on Veras’ first pitch, pulling the ball past Alvarez, who missed it by inches.
“This one I think was hit harder, and the only way he makes this play is if he’s straddling the bag along the third base line,” Hurdle said. “You pitch in traffic two straight nights, usually it doesn’t end up well — and we’ve done a lot of that the last two nights.”
Tracy was so low on options in his bullpen that he had Esmil Rogers, who started and won the series opener, warming up in the ninth. He was only going to use Belisle in an emergency, but the right-hander told his manager before the game that he could take the ball.
“I told him from the get-go that I’m ready to rock,” Belisle said.
Smith put the Rockies up 3-2 in the sixth with his homer. Pittsburgh starter Charlie Morton grooved a 1-0 fastball that Smith crushed, driving it to right-center. The ball hit a concrete walkway, hopped over a wall and rolled down an embankment and would have plopped into the murky river if it hadn’t struck the boat docked outside the stadium.
NOTES: Tabata has a nine-game hitting streak, the majors’ longest. … Tracy reported that Jimenez was “really, really letting it go” while playing long toss on Friday, an encouraging sign for the right-hander, on the disabled list with a cut cuticle on his right thumb. Tracy said Jimenez, who hasn’t pitched since the season opener, will throw a bullpen session Sunday. … Rockies 1B Todd Helton didn’t play because of a stiff lower back. Helton was scratched from the starting lineup Friday, but was used as a pinch-hitter in the 14th inning. Tracy said the club is being cautious with Helton and there has been no talk about putting him on the disabled list. “That’s not even been a point of discussion,” Tracy said.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)