Polanco's triple lifts Pirates over Padres

Polanco's triple lifts Pirates over Padres

PITTSBURGH -- Gregory Polanco's triple with two outs in the eighth inning drove in the tie-breaking run Tuesday night as the Pirates edged San Diego, 3-2, to clinch the Bucs' first series win over the Padres in PNC Park history, where the teams have been meeting annually since 2001.

Polanco's shot up the left-center alley off Joaquin Benoit scored Sean Rodriguez, who had been hit by a pitch to begin the inning. The Bucs won their fourth straight, and seventh in eight games, while the loss was San Diego's fourth consecutive, matching the Friars' longest skid of the season. Mark Melancon closed out the game for his 26th consecutive successful save conversion, tying Joel Hanrahan's 2011 club record.

Melancon shuts the door

"I was very excited," said Polanco, who pulled into third base on his stand-up triple wildly clapping his hands. "There was a rain delay, it was a long game. We didn't want extra innings. We wanted to get it done."

While Pittsburgh starter Francisco Liriano remained in the game on the other side of a 1-hour, 42-minute rain delay in the top of the third -- and wound up going six innings -- San Diego starter Tyson Ross was replaced by Frank Garces.

Liriano's solid start

Dry enough to hit: San Diego's Matt Kemp made the most of his post-rain delay at-bat in the third inning when he clubbed a two-run double to center field off Liriano for a 2-0 lead. It was Kemp's first hit in 13 career at-bats against Liriano.

Kemp's two-run double

The 270-foot force play: The Pirates came back with their own rally in the bottom of the third, but weren't able to maximize the opportunity because Neil Walker "singled" into a force at second. Polanco was on first with one out when Walker lined his hit to left -- short-hopped by the onrushing Upton, who threw an on-the-fly laser to second baseman Jedd Gyorko to force Polanco. As a result, McCutchen's ensuing double drove in only one run.

J. Upton's heads-up play

Up, up and away: Padres left fielder Justin Upton is certainly more well-known for his bat than glove. Not Tuesday, though. Upton robbed McCutchen of a two-run home run in the fifth inning with a leaping grab of McCutchen's smash to left field, reaching well above the six-foot-high fence. More >

"I'm saying that's the best one this year," Padres interim manager Pat Murphy said. "It was just something unbelievable, and it was a two-run catch. Really, really special."

"We're a little snake-bit. We're a victim of playing great teams on the road. But there are a lot of encouraging things. I refuse to act like we're not going to be OK because it's going to turn for us. And when it turns, we're going to be good." -- Murphy, on waiting for things to go his club's way

"Well, we can knock this off the to-do list, for sure. We won a series at home against San Diego. Good stuff." -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, whose club had lost 31 of its last 44 home games against the Padres

The rain cut short Ross' outing, yet he managed to carve a piece of club history for himself. This marked the 13th consecutive start this season where he didn't allow a home run. The previous record was held by Randy Jones (July 8-September 6, 1978).

Murphy said it was in the best interest of Ross, who pitched after a long delay earlier in the season, to not return to the game.

"We made that decision early and decided it was best for the young man to not go back out there after an hour and 45 minutes and then the possibility of more rain and everything else," Murphy said. "He's got a little blister on his finger that he's dealt with, so that was probably another factor."

McCutchen went 2-for-4, raising his average (.301) above .300 for the first time this season and extending his hitting streak to 13 games, a new personal best. He is 18-for-47 (.383) in that stretch.

Cutch's RBI double

About an hour before first pitch, Francisco Cervelli was scratched from the Pirates' original lineup and replaced behind the plate by Chris Stewart in what the club described as a "manager's decision" by Hurdle. Cervelli had typically taken some stray pitches off his body Monday night, but finished that game.

"High activity [Monday] night," Hurdle said, by way of explaining the move. "He wanted to play -- I felt we were better served giving him a blow."

The rains that delayed the game in the third moved in quickly, whipped by high winds that also played havoc with the tarp as the PNC Park grounds crew fought to cover the infield. Pirates players -- Rodriguez, Polanco and McCutchen -- watching their struggles quickly sprang into action when a crew member got swallowed up by the billowing tarp. They helped create an opening for the man to free himself then continued, along with the incoming bullpen, to help cover the field. More >

"They wanted to help out and were right on the spot," Hurdle said. "Leaders make moves, and those guys were spot-on, threw caution to the wind. They went out and tried to help. I'm proud of them."

Must C: Pirates help tame tarp

Padres: Andrew Cashner will take the bump as the Padres close out their three-game series against the Pirates on Wednesday at 4:05 p.m. PT at PNC Park. Cashner (3-9, 4.06 ERA) has a 1-3 record and 0.95 ERA in six career appearances (two starts) against the Pirates. He logged a no-decision in his most recent outing, throwing six innings and allowing one run against the Cardinals on Friday.

Pirates: Charlie Morton (6-2, 4.30 ERA) will seek his fifth win in six starts at home as the Pirates go for their 10th series sweep in Wednesday's series finale with the Padres at 7:05 p.m. ET. A win would also be Morton's seventh of the season, matching his most since 2011.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.