Detroit at Pittsburgh

W: B. Morris (2-2) L: A. Sanchez (5-5) S: J. Grilli (22)
HR: DET - M. Cabrera (15)   PIT - N. Walker (4)

Pirates solve Sanchez, rally past Tigers in seventh wire reports

PITTSBURGH -- Anibal Sanchez spent six innings toying with the Pittsburgh Pirates, his electric stuff rendering the Pirates innocent bystanders.

When the Detroit starter finally wobbled, Pittsburgh wasted little time knocking him over.

Pedro Alvarez's two-run double sparked a seventh-inning rally and the Pirates streaked by the Tigers 5-3 on Wednesday night. Travis Snider added an RBI double and Jordy Mercer laid down a perfect suicide squeeze to cap the four-run burst and abruptly end Sanchez's evening.

"I don't think as a team we ever check out in the seventh inning," Snider said. "We've had a lot of late comebacks we've had a lot of great rallies off bullpens and starters late in the game."

The victory was Pittsburgh's eighth of the year when it trailed after six innings and pushed the Pirates to a season-high 13 games over .500 (33-20). Bryan Morris (2-2) picked up the victory in relief of A.J. Burnett. Jason Grilli pitched the ninth for his major league-leading 22nd save.

Miguel Cabrera hit his 15th home run for Detroit. He flied out to the wall in right field with a runner on to end it.

Neil Walker -- whose solo home run in the 11th inning produced the only run in a 1-0 Pittsburgh victory in Detroit on Tuesday night -- provided the only two hits through off six innings off Sanchez. The righthander looked nearly as dominant as he did in his previous start, when he one-hit the Minnesota Twins.

Sanchez retired 16 of 17 batters at one point and appeared to have all the cushion he needed when Andy Dirks doubled home Don Kelly with one out in the fifth and Cabrera followed two batters later by poking a 92 mph fastball from A.J. Burnett into the seats in right field for his 15th home run, giving the Tigers a 3-1 lead.

Watching Sanchez buzz through the first six innings on just 67 pitches, Detroit manager Jim Leyland didn't even have anyone up in the bullpen when things quickly unraveled.

Garrett Jones singled with one out in the seventh, Russell Martin walked on four pitches and the floodgates opened.

"It was kind of a freaky thing," Leyland said. "He just walked a guy and all of a sudden kind of lost it there momentarily."

Alvarez followed by driving a ball to the wall in left-center, scoring both runners. Snider took the next pitch and hit it off the wall in right with Alvarez just beating the relay throw to put Pittsburgh in front.

"We knew as hitters we had to grind," Snider said. "If he's going to make a mistake, it's going to be early. Pedro did a great job jumping on him early, so did Jones. Russell the same thing, getting on base. Before they were able to get anything going in their bullpen we were able to get to him in that inning."

Snider moved to third on a wild pitch, then darted home when Mercer's bunt stopped just in front of the pitcher's mound. It's one of the few times the squeeze has worked for the Pirates under manager Clint Hurdle.

"It was kind of surprising," Mercer said. "In those situations all you want to do is put it in fair territory somewhere. I was able to deaden it. It actually worked out really well for both sides."

Sanchez allowed five runs on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings, walking one and striking out nine while his ERA rose from 2.38 to 2.79.

"I think I missed some pitches and they hit them," Sanchez said. "I take responsibility, that's part of the game. Before that inning I thought everything was working good, especially location."

Pittsburgh's late surge allowed Burnett to escape his fourth straight loss. The Pirates have struggled to support their ace this season and had scored just five runs total in his previous five starts.

The right-hander had issues with his command but managed to stay out of trouble until the fifth, when Kelly's leadoff walk started a three-run burst. Burnett gave up three runs on five hits, walking four and striking out four.

Burnett was long gone by the time Alvarez got things going. Tony Watson worked the eighth and Grilli -- who struck out the Tigers in order in the 11th on Tuesday -- stayed perfect in 22 save chances when Cabrera flied out.


  • Detroit OF Torii Hunter sustained a contusion on his left elbow after getting hit by Morris' fastball in the seventh. Hunter said the pain made him "dizzy" but X-rays were negative.
  • Tigers CF Austin Jackson is likely heading to Triple-A Toledo this weekend while he recovers from an injured left hamstring that has had him on the disabled list since May 12. Leyland said he would like to test Jackson's hamstring before activating him.
  • A Pirates season ticket holder provided Grilli with a fish tank that includes three small sharks and a blowfish. Grilli and setup man Mark Melancon have nicknamed Pittsburgh's bullpen the "Shark Tank."
  • The Pirates are 24-1 this season when leading after seven innings.
  • The series concludes on Thursday. Pittsburgh's Jeff Locke (5-1, 2.45 ERA) will look for his sixth consecutive victory. Doug Fister (5-2, 3.65 ERA) starts for the Tigers.
Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
Despite Torii Hunter's efforts to disrupt him, Pittsburgh's Neil Walker successfully turns a double play in the seventh inning. (USATSI)
Despite Torii Hunter's efforts to disrupt him, Pittsburgh's Neil Walker successfully turns a double play in the seventh inning. (USATSI)

Players of the Game

M. Cabrera
AB 5
R 1
H 1
HR 1

N. Walker
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1

Related Video

Detroit Tigers
Andy Dirks, LF-RF5111004 .250
Torii Hunter, RF3010001 .312
    Avisail Garcia, CF1000011 .231
Miguel Cabrera, 3B5112013 .368
Prince Fielder, 1B4010000 .272
Jhonny Peralta, SS4010022 .337
Alex Avila, C2000112 .175
   a- Brayan Pena, PH-C1010000 .314
Omar Infante, 2B4000001 .296
Don Kelly, CF0100300 .186
   b- Matt Tuiasosopo, PH-LF1000001 .320
Anibal Sanchez, P1000010 .000
    Drew Smyly, P0000000 .000
   c- Victor Martinez, PH1010000 .229
a-singled for Avila in the 8th
b-lined out for Kelly in the 8th
c-singled for Smyly in the 9th
2B - Andy Dirks (4, Burnett)
HR - Miguel Cabrera (15, Burnett)
SH - Anibal Sanchez 2 (2)
RBI - Andy Dirks (16), Miguel Cabrera 2 (59)
2-OUT RBI - Miguel Cabrera 2 (28)
Team LOB - 9
DP - B. Pena-Infante
Detroit Tigers
Anibal Sanchez (L,5-5) 6.2755191 2.79
Drew Smyly 1.1100020 2.20
WP - Anibal Sanchez (2)
Pitches-Strikes - Anibal Sanchez 93-71, Drew Smyly 15-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Anibal Sanchez 6-5
Batters Faced - Anibal Sanchez 28, Drew Smyly 4
Pittsburgh Pirates
Starling Marte, LF4010010 .296
Neil Walker, 2B4121012 .266
Andrew McCutchen, CF4010001 .289
Garrett Jones, 1B3110011 .270
    Tony Watson, P0000000 .000
   a- Brandon Inge, PH1000010 .224
    Jason Grilli, P0000000 .000
Russell Martin, C3100120 .250
Pedro Alvarez, 3B3112020 .200
Travis Snider, RF3111000 .263
Jordy Mercer, SS3011020 .291
A.J. Burnett, P1000000 .000
   b- Josh Harrison, PH1000000 .100
    Bryan Morris, P0000000 .000
   c- Gaby Sanchez, PH-1B1000011 .232
a-struck out for Watson in the 8th
b-popped out for Burnett in the 6th
c-struck out for Morris in the 7th
2B - Pedro Alvarez (3, Sanchez), Travis Snider (10, Sanchez)
HR - Neil Walker (4, Sanchez)
RBI - Neil Walker (16), Pedro Alvarez 2 (29), Travis Snider (16), Jordy Mercer (6)
SB - Starling Marte (14, 2nd base off Smyly/Avila), Jordy Mercer (2, 2nd base off Sanchez/Avila)
CS - Andrew McCutchen (3, 2nd base by Smyly/B. Pena)
Team LOB - 3
DP - Mercer-Walker-G. Jones
E - Pedro Alvarez (8, Throwing), Garrett Jones (3, Misplayed grounder)
Pittsburgh Pirates
A.J. Burnett 6533441 2.72
Bryan Morris (W,2-2) 1000000 3.24
Tony Watson (H,9) 1100010 4.62
Jason Grilli (S,22) 1100010 1.09
HBP - Hunter (by Bryan Morris)
WP - A.J. Burnett (6)
Pitches-Strikes - A.J. Burnett 97-60, Bryan Morris 12-7, Tony Watson 9-6, Jason Grilli 10-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - A.J. Burnett 11-4, Bryan Morris 2-0, Jason Grilli 1-1
Batters Faced - A.J. Burnett 28, Bryan Morris 3, Tony Watson 4, Jason Grilli 4
Game Information
Attendance - 19980
Game Time - 2:41
Temperature - 85
Umpires - Home - Wally Bell, First Base - Manny Gonzalez, Second Base - Tony Randazzo, Third Base - Larry Vanover