Marte's catch highlights bullpen's big night

Marte's catch highlights bullpen's big night

PITTSBURGH -- Closer Mark Melancon got credit for the save, his Major League-leading 24th, in the Pirates' 7-6 win over the Reds on Tuesday at PNC Park. And he earned it, striking out the side in the ninth inning.

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But there was little doubt afterward in the Bucs' clubhouse that Starling Marte earned a save of his own in the seventh inning. With two outs and the tying run on third base, Marte flung himself headfirst to snag Todd Frazier's line drive, stealing a run away from Cincinnati and helping Pittsburgh's bullpen preserve the lead.

Trotting toward first base, Frazier slammed his helmet to the ground in frustration. In left field, Marte rested on his knees and gathered himself for a moment before jogging off the field.

"I landed hard," Marte said. "But after three seconds, I was back to breathing. It's a good play."

"Yeah, he made a good play, a really good play. Nothing you can do about it," Frazier added. "Wish it would have gotten down, but you've got to give credit where it's due."

The PNC Park crowd showed its gratitude with a standing ovation for Marte. Over in center field, Andrew McCutchen raised his arms in celebration.

"My hands were up in the air like, 'Game saver,'" McCutchen said.

That title could have been split six ways Tuesday, between Marte and the five members of the Pirates' bullpen who picked up starter Jeff Locke after his four-inning, four-run outing.

Melancon shuts the door

In fact, it could go all the way back to Sunday's game, a 9-2 loss in Washington. Charlie Morton recorded only two outs, leaving 7 1/3 innings to the Bucs' bullpen.

Over those 12 1/3 relief innings on Sunday and Tuesday, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle deployed all seven of his relievers. They all did their job in some way or another, from Vance Worley picking up 4 1/3 innings Sunday to Melancon's perfect ninth Tuesday.

"They all just try and get the game to a better spot than when they came in," Hurdle said. "Everybody's put something in."

Rob Scahill gave up a run and two hits in the fifth Tuesday, but Jared Hughes bailed him out with a big ground-ball out from Frazier to escape the inning.

Arquimedes Caminero gave up a leadoff homer in the sixth but successfully bridged the gap to setup man Tony Watson and Melancon -- with some notable help from Marte's catch in the seventh.

Then came Watson and Melancon, each striking out the side to preserve the Pirates' one-run victory.

"Actually, the save started with Marte's catch in left field, then you strike out six to end the game," Hurdle said. "That shortened the game right there with Watson and Melancon. Everybody's done something."

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.