The Pirates held a commanding 2-0 lead for much of the game. In his season debut, Pirates starter Vance Worley struck out five hitters and gave up only five hits in seven shutout innings.
Henderson Alverez did his best to minimize the damage. He struck out seven batters with a career high 112 pitches in seven innings. The two runs he gave up snapped his home scoreless streak of 27 innings.
All hope seemed to be lost when the Pirates brought in reliever Tony Watson in the eighth inning. Watson came into the game not allowing a run in 22 straight appearances so the usual dominating performance would’ve bridged the gap for All-Star closer Jason Grilli.
Both Jeff Baker and Rafael Furcal reached base to start the rally but Watson responded by striking out both Reed Johnson and Giancarlo Stanton. Then it was “Hits McGehee” to the rescue with a two-out, two-run double to tie the game.
The game went on to extra innings with the Pirates having the advantage at the top of the tenth with the bases loaded and no outs. Marlins manager Mike Redmond decided to keep A.J. Ramos in the game to face Russell Martin in a pivotal at-bat.
“He’s had a hard time locating to start the inning,” McGehee said, “but he dialed it in when he had to. Russell Martin kept fouling it off. You got to give A.J. a lot of credit for keep making not just strikes but quality strikes.”
Ramos’ battle with Martin resulted in a 5-2-3 double play that ended the threat. He would then strikeout Clint Barmes to end the inning.
“Mathis was really the key to the play,” McGehee said. “I didn’t make the greatest throw to home.”
Furcal led-off the bottom half of the inning and fouled a pitch off his knee. Redmond wanted to take Furcal out of the game but he wanted to stay and finish the at-bat. He hit a single down the middle and painfully limped to first base.
Ed Lucas came into pinch run for Furcal. Lucas would later score the winning run off a sacrifice fly by McGehee, who after hitting Jared Hughes’ fastball looked at his dugout to see the excitement in his teammate’s faces.
“There’s nothing like it,” McGehee said. “It’s one of those feelings that you can’t describe until it happens. It’s a special feeling because you’ve been grinding for however many innings it’s been, the instant relief, there’s nothing like it.”
Ramos gets the win and is 4-0 on the season. Like his record, his teammates’ confidence in him in unwavering.
“Can’t say enough of A.J. getting out of that situation,” Redmond said. “I would’ve liked to see him not get into that situation but at the same time, for a young pitcher, he made some great pitches.”
The Marlins continue their homestand with a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs.