PITTSBURGH (AP)—The Pittsburgh Pirates rarely hit the ball out of the infield and still found a way to get to Randy Johnson. Mark Reynolds hit the ball over the wall, or at least thought he did, and didn’t get a home run.
The Arizona Diamondbacks, a first-place team that isn’t playing like one, didn’t need much more than that to explain their 5-3 loss to the Pirates on Monday, a day when tempers were as heated as the low-90s temperatures.
The Pirates took advantage of a rattled Johnson, a reversed home run call and several scrappy at-bats by Doug Mientkiewicz to gain a split of the four-game series. The left-hander limited them to six singles and struck out three in 5 2-3 innings but was hurt by three errors, one by the pitcher himself following a Mientkiewicz at-bat that visibly irritated Johnson.
The benches and bullpens emptied briefly when Johnson left the mound and began walking toward home plate, yelling, after Mientkiewicz twice stepped out of the batter’s box with a 2-1 count in the third inning. Mientkiewicz apparently was unhappy that Johnson’s previous pitch nearly hit him.
“He’s intense, I’m intense, and it probably didn’t help that it was 1,000 degrees out there,” Mientkiewicz said.
Johnson (4-3) went on to walk Mientkiewicz, who was 1-for-2 with two walks and scored twice. Johnson insisted he wasn’t upset but, several hours later in the clubhouse, talked as if he was.
“It didn’t bother me at all,” Johnson said. “If it would have, he’d probably be on a stretcher and I’d probably be out of the game.”
Johnson then threw wildly on Jose Bautista’s grounder and catcher Miguel Montero, who had a miserable day, fumbled Duke’s sacrifice bunt attempt for another error that loaded the bases. Johnson walked Luis Rivas to force in a run as the Pirates scored without hitting a ball farther than 50 feet.
“Did he (Johnson) lose his composure? Maybe, but it’s not like we did a lot of damage,” Pirates manager John Russell said.
Johnson’s wildness—he walked five, with four scoring—hurt him again an inning later when Jason Michaels walked with one out, Mientkiewicz singled into center on a hit-and-run and Bautista hit a sacrifice fly. Jack Wilson walked leading off the fifth, stole second and scored on Xavier Nady’s single to make it 3-1.
Zach Duke (4-4) gave up two runs, including one Reynolds homer and nearly another, in six-plus innings. Relievers Damaso Marte and Tyler Yates shut down potential Arizona late-inning comebacks as the teams split the four-game series. Matt Capps pitched the ninth for his 15th save in as many chances.
“This was one of those games you need,” Mientkiewicz said. “We’re a team that’s trying to earn respect around the league. … We’re trying to get over the hump. You do what you’ve got to do to win a game. Sometimes all you need is a spark and it’s nice to see the guys respond.”
Reynolds homered twice Sunday in a 5-3 loss and nearly did so again Monday.
Reynolds’ drive to right field in the second appeared headed for the top of the 21-foot high wall, but a fan wearing a glove leaned several feet over the railing and caught the ball. First base umpire Rob Drake initially ruled it a home run but, after Pirates manager John Russell argued, the umpires huddled briefly and reversed the call, sending Reynolds back to second with a double.
An angry Arizona manager Bob Melvin was ejected by home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg for arguing the reversal.
“In my opinion, the first base umpire got it right. He’s the closest to the play,” said Melvin, who didn’t change his mind after watching replays in his office.
Major league umpires have gotten several similar calls wrong this season, though they appeared to get this one right, and that makes Reynolds wonder if instant replay isn’t long off.
“It’s like the NFL. If they can’t tell for sure (if a call is wrong), it’s the way the refs called it,” said Reynolds, who homered his next time up in the fourth.
The Diamondbacks lost their 10th in 14 games and second in a row to cut their NL West lead to 3 1/2 games against the idle Dodgers.
Arizona tried to get back into the game when Reynolds and Chris Young doubled off Duke to start the seventh, but Marte struck out Chris Burke with two on. Tyler Yates struck out Montero to leave the bases loaded in the eighth following Stephen Drew’s leadoff homer, off Marte.
Montero struck out four times, leaving eight runners on base. … Johnson lost his fourth in a row following a five-game winning streak. … The Diamondbacks finished with 26 hits in the four-game series. They have had eight hits or fewer in 13 consecutive games. … Duke has lasted six or more innings 10 times in 13 starts. All four of his victories are in PNC Park, where he is 18-11 in his career.