Great start by Gore squandered, but Padres walk it off to take series  

Credit: Padres

Credit: Padres

The San Diego Padres entered the series finale on the heels of a blown save and brutal loss on Saturday night.

Bob Melvin’s side looked to bounce back to take the final game of the homestand with young left-hander MacKenzie Gore on the mound. Manny Machado did not participate in the day game, with his second consecutive day off. In his absence last night, the offense left 16 men aboard on their way to push across two runs in the 4-2 late-inning defeat.

Two young hurlers faced off on the Military Sunday matchup, for Pittsburgh Roansy Contreras (22 years old) in his 5th appearance, 2nd start vs. San Diego’s MacKenzie Gore (23 years old) 8th appearance, 7th start.

Pitching dominated early in the matchup. Each starter matched zeroes through the first four and a half innings.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, the leadoff batter, Jorge Alfaro, beat out a chopper hit to the third basemen for an infield single. A wild pitch advanced him into scoring position. He would move to third on a sharp ground ball to the first baseman off the bat of Trent Grisham. The next batter, Jose Azocar, popped up a bunt attempt holding the runner at third, now with two outs. The Padres have been abysmal at driving in runs at home recently, and this felt all too familiar as potentially another squandered opportunity.

The task to bring home Alfaro fell on the shoulders of Jurickson Profar. Profar did not disappoint. Not only did he get the Padres on the board, but he brought himself home as well. He clubbed a hanging changeup for a line drive 360 feet that just cleared the right-field fence for his sixth homer of the season (first of the month, after five in April) to give Gore a 2-0 to work with.

Gore was dominant in his 93 pitch seven-inning effort, he only allowed six baserunners (two hits, three walks, and a hit batter), and no base runner reached as far as third base. He kept Pirates off-balance all game long, fanning nine along the way, lowering his season ERA to 1.71. He left the game in a position to pick up the fourth win of his rookie campaign.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Padres turned to Nabil Crismatt for his 14th appearance of the season. He allowed a leadoff single to the former friar, Tucupita Marcano. A tapper to Eric Hosmer at first moved Marcano to second. A double off the bat of Ke’Bryan Hayes that just tipped off the glove of Profar in left field brought in the Pirates’ first run of the game. Another slow roller to Hosmer moved Hayes over to third with two down. Josh VanMeter stroked a single into left-center to bring home the tying run, removing MacKenzie Gore from factoring in the decision. The blown save was San Diego’s league-leading ninth of the season.

In the top of the tenth, the Padres turned to Luis Garcia to keep the score tied. The Pirates went with a small-ball approach. The leadoff batter successfully bunted their ghost runner over to third. With a legitimate run scoring opportunity, Garcia was able to punch out Rodolfo Castro for the second out of the inning. The next batter Ke’Bryan Hayes had the stage set to pester the Padres once again with a clutch hit. However, he was never given the opportunity. On a 1-0 count, Garcia yanked a sinker to the backstop leading to what appeared to be a golden opportunity to take the lead. The runner on third, Hoy Park, broke for the plate when the ball got away from Jorge Alfaro. Luckily for the Padres, Alfaro was able to recover the ball and dive across the plate to complete the tag, keeping the score tied at two.

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In the bottom of the tenth, Trent Grisham to the dish, presumably to get the runner from second to third. After two fastballs that missed for balls, Grisham cleaned out an inside fastball sending it 368 feet, keeping it fair by a matter of inches. The homerun banged halfway up the right-field foul pole, sending the Petco Park crowd of 44,395 home happy.

The Padres conclude their homestand 3-3, picking up their 30th win of the season. The boys head out to St.Louis for an afternoon (11:15 PST) affair against the Cardinals, who currently sit second in NL Central with a record of 26-21. The Padres will send out RHP Nick Martinez (2-2 3.86 ERA) to take on LHP Packy Naughton (0-1, 2.89).

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