The true test of a top ball club is how they respond to a setback. Pirates fans would have been mildly concerned following the crushing 16 innings defeat at home to Arizona the night before, but the long journey to San Diego didn’t dent the resolve as Francisco Liriano produced an outstanding performance and helped his team to a 3 – 1 victory to maintain top spot in the NL Central. The lefty pitched 7 strong innings, striking out 13 and allowing just 4 hits and 2 walks, whilst Pedro Alvarez hit his 31st home run for the Pirates. The key play of the game was Chris Denorfia’s huge error in the fourth which allowed 2 runs and effectively won the game for the away team. Running in to stop a routine ground ball, his concentration slipped and the ball slid under his glove and to the wall which gave ample time for Andrew McCutcheon and Pedro Alvarez to run in 2 runs.
As gifts go, Pirates left fielder Starling Marte’s 9th Inning simple catching error gave St Louis the impetus to pull off a miraculous 14 Innings comeback to win 4 – 3. It keeps the heat between the two teams vying for the NL Central title and virtual fever pitch. If St Louis take the title by one game at the end of the season then sadly many will recall Marte’s disaster as a pivotal moment.