Twins' bullpen blows it against Pirates
MINNEAPOLIS — Jung Ho Kang’s solo homer in the top of the ninth inning lifted the Pittsburgh Pirates to an 8-7 win over the Minnesota Twins at Target Field on Tuesday night.
Kang’s blast, which travelled 411 feet into the second deck in left field, came off All-Star closer Glen Perkins, who entered with the game tied in the ninth following a crazy eighth inning where each team scored four runs.
Gregory Polanco of the Pirates doubled with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth, breaking a 3-3 tie and giving Pittsburgh a 6-3 lead. An RBI single by Neil Walker made it a four-run game.
But Minnesota rallied with four runs of its own in the bottom half of the inning, getting threestraight one-out singles from Trevor Plouffe, Eddie Rosario and Aaron Hicks ahead of a two-run double down the left field line by Kurt Suzuki. A ground-rule double by Eduardo Escobar tied the game at 7 before Kang’s winning blast with one out.
Perkins has now lost consecutive outings and has allowed six runs in four appearances since the All-Star break, seeing his ERA jump from 1.21 to 2.41 over that span.
Pirates closer Mark Melancon got the win, retiring the final two batters of the eighth and working around a walk in the ninth to improve to 2-1.
Minnesota posted a two-out rally in the first to get the game’s first run.
Joe Mauer worked a walk in a nine-pitch at-bat then reached second on a balk. He scored on an infield hit by designated hitter Miguel Sano that was compounded by a throwing error by Pirates third baseman Aramis Ramirez.
The Twins went ahead by two runs in the fourth after a leadoff triple by left fielder Eddie Rosario. He scored on an RBI groundout by center fielder Aaron Hicks.
Pittsburgh jumped on Pelfrey to start the fifth, however, getting sharp singles by catcher Francisco Cervelli and first baseman Travis Ishikawa. Left fielder Jaff Decker reached when the throw from Plouffe on his sacrifice bunt was launched into right field, scoring Cervelli.
Ishikawa scored two batters later on a fielder’s choice, tying the game at 2.
NOTES: Tuesday marked the Pirates’ first game at Target Field and first in Minnesota since June 18, 2009, at the Metrodome. The Pirates are the 27th major league team to play at Target Field. Only Cincinnati, San Francisco and Washington have not played there. ... Pirates 3B Brent Morel refused his outright assignment to Triple-A Indianapolis and is now a free agent. Morel was designated for assignment by the club Saturday. ... Pirates OF Starling Marte was a late scratch from the lineup because of illness. Marte had originally been penciled in to the No. 2 spot and in left field. He was replaced in left by OF Jaff Decker. ... Twins INF Eduardo Escobar got the start at shortstop and batted ninth. ... The Pirates and Twins complete the final game of their brief two-game series at Target Field on Wednesday. Pittsburgh’s Francisco Liriano (6-6, 2.91 ERA) will oppose Minnesota’s Ervin Santana (2-0, 2.60 ERA).