PITTSBURGH -- Apparently, individual heroics are also eligible for replay review. Gregory Polanco's RBI single with two outs in the eighth snapped a 2-2 tie Wednesday night at PNC Park as the Pirates went on to a 5-2 win over San Diego -- the night after his RBI double with two outs in the eighth had given the Bucs a 3-2 win over the Padres.
Polanco's drive off the right-field Clemente Wall drove in Travis Ishikawa, who had drawn a two-out walk off hard-luck right-hander Andrew Cashner, who took a two-hitter into the eighth inning, but could not stop the Padres' losing streak, which is now at five.
"That's baseball. That's why you've got to play the whole game, wait for an opening and try to take advantage," said Andrew McCutchen, whose RBI single drove in the middle run of the three-run rally and extended his personal-best hitting streak to 15 games.
The Bucs set the stage for a critical four-game series with National League Central leading St. Louis Cardinals by running their winning streak to five. They completed their 10th series sweep of the season, and in this one each of their wins came in the last at-bat.
The Pirates' Charlie Morton tendered his sixth quality start out of nine, allowing two runs in six innings. He allowed five hits and four walks -- two of them in the second cashed in for a run by the Padres on Melvin Upton Jr.'s RBI double. Matt Kemp had homered for the Friars in the first.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Kemp heating up? After hitting one home run in his first 220 at-bats of the season, Kemp now has six home runs in his last 113 at-bats, with the latest long ball coming in the first inning off Morton on a 1-2 fastball to center field.
Little ball, big payoff: Manufacturing runs has not been a Pittsburgh staple in recent years, but with their power production dramatically down, the Pirates are getting good at it. They had only two hits off Cashner in seven innings, but also two runs, scored on a sacrifice fly by Pedro Alvarez in the second and on an infield grounder by Francisco Cervelli in the seventh.
"Cashner was tough. We weren't getting a lot of good pitches to hit," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We needed [small ball] tonight, we didn't have much of a safety net. Guys we had on, we had to find a way to move them. We did some smart hitting, some gritty hitting."
Steel City, strong arm: The last time that Cashner started a game at PNC Park, he tossed a complete-game, one-hitter (Sept. 16, 2013). He was on top of his game Wednesday, retiring 15 hitters at one point before Neil Walker's double to start the seventh inning.
"I thought he had as good of an outing as I've seen in a while," San Diego interim manager Pat Murphy said. "He knows he's on his way to being a really good Major League pitcher for a long time. It was a matter of maturity, and what he wanted to do." More >
A walk-on hero: Ishikawa probably didn't know it at the time, but his first contribution to the Pirates turned into a big one. The ex-Giants player, picked up on waivers over the weekend, drew an innocuous two-out walk in the eighth inning of a 2-2 tie off Cashner. Only it wasn't so innocuous as it was followed by three run-scoring hits as the Bucs pulled away.
"We don't have anyone on base, we got two outs and we're in the eighth inning," said Hurdle, setting the stage for Ishikawa's full-count walk. "Real big. It got us in motion, and we had some good at-bats after that." More >
"They played so well for so long, and it just goes to show how our guy persevered. They stayed the course, kept taking care of today's game, and it has gotten us here." -- Hurdle, on the pace-setting Cardinals and his own Pirates, who have gone 32-12 since May 22 while gaining little ground on the division leaders -- whom they get to face head-on Thursday.More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Justin Upton (46 RBIs), Derek Norris (45) and Kemp (45 after his home run Wednesday) have 40 or more RBIs this season. The Padres are only the second team in the National League to have three players with 40 or more RBIs. The Reds are the other.
On the near-anniversary of their first series sweep of 2014 (July 4-6 versus Philadelphia) the Pirates completed their 10th sweep of this season, the most in the Majors.
CAN'T HOLD ON
The Padres have scored first in each of their last five games -- two against the Cardinals and these three against the Pirates -- only to lose all five games.
Murphy said the onus falls on everyone in the clubhouse to maintain positivity despite the recent outcomes.
"I think they have that responsibility to each other to know that this happens in baseball," Murphy said. "They've all been through it before."
Padres: The Padres are off on Thursday before opening a three-game series on the road against the Rangers at 5:05 p.m. PT on Friday. Ian Kennedy gets the start. He has a 3.54 ERA in seven road starts this season and a 2.63 ERA in his last seven overall starts.
Pirates: After chasing the Cardinals from afar for two months, the Bucs get a chance to deal with them hands on in the opener of a four-game PNC Park series on Thursday. Lefty Jeff Locke will get the ball first for the 7:05 p.m. ET match.