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Marte sparks Pirates' 12-8 win over Giants

The SportsXchange

PITTSBURGH -- Starling Marte insisted he was not frustrated by the first extended slump of his short major league career.

Yet the Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder and leadoff hitter looked like he was taking out his frustrations on the San Francisco Giants' pitching staff on Wednesday night.

Marte went 4-for-5, scored four runs and stole two bases to key the Pirates' 12-8 victory at PNC Park.

"I've been feeling the same," Marte said through a translator. "I'm not perfect. I've been trying to get more focus every at-bat. I've been doing the same work, just trying to be better every day."

It seemed pitchers had found a way to consistently retire Marte, in his first full major league season after making his debut last July. He was 11-for-60 (.183) in his last 16 games, a slump that had dropped his batting average to .279.

However, the free-swinging Marte, who has 60 strikeouts and just 13 walks this season, responded with his first four-hit game to add 10 points to that average.

"I think it goes back to pitch selection, seeing the ball up, trying to maintain discipline throughout the at-bat -- plate discipline, zone discipline," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

Jordy Mercer, Andrew McCutchen and Gaby Sanchez had three hits each as the top four hitters in Pirates' lineup went 13-for-19 with eight runs. McCutchen drove in three runs for Pittsburgh, which had 18 hits and posted a season-high run total.

Neil Walker added two hits, including a home run, and three RBIs, while Russell Martin drove in two runs and Alex Presley hit a pinch-hit homer.

"It was a night that every run counted," Hurdle said. "We were able to continue to add on. You're playing a team that's won two championships in the last three years. There's no quit in them regardless of who's out there and who's pitching. They kept coming and we kept adding on and continuing to create some separation."

Francisco Liriano (5-2) got through six shaky innings for the win, allowing four runs on eight hits with three walks and two strikeouts. It was just the second time in seven starts Liriano had allowed more than one run. He averaged 11.75 strikeouts per nine innings coming into Wednesday.

Zito (4-5) saw his road woes continue as he was rocked for eight runs and 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings. He is 0-4 with an 11.28 ERA in five away starts this season.

"I felt pretty good but I left too many fastballs up in the zone," Zito said. "If you're not throwing your fastball down in the zone, you are going to struggle."

There is a huge gulf in Zito's home/road splits. He is 4-1 with a 1.94 ERA in eight starts at AT&T Park.

"It probably doesn't look like it, but I think it's just a coincidence," Zito said. "At home, I've caught some breaks and kept stuff down in the zone, and I haven't done that on the road."

Tony Abreu, filling in for the injured Marco Scutaro at second base, had three of the Giants' 15 hits and scored three runs. Joaquin Arias had two hits and three RBIs, Buster Posey had two hits and two RBIs, Hunter Pence hit two doubles, and Brandon Belt and Juan Perez added two hits apiece.

Walker's two-run single capped a four-run fifth inning that enabled the Pirates to move in front for good, 8-4. Martin plated the go-ahead run with a force-out grounder and Pedro Alvarez followed with an RBI double.

Presley led off the sixth inning with his first home run of the season, a drive into the right-field stands off Ramon Ramirez, and Sanchez hit an RBI double to push Pittsburgh's lead to 10-4.

NOTES: Scutaro was out of the lineup with a tendon issue in his left hand and is day-to-day. He has decided to forgo surgery that would sideline him from six-to-eight weeks. Scutaro was injured Tuesday night when hit by a pitch on the left pinkie and was told by a hand specialist Wednesday he could do no further damage to the tendon by playing. ... Giants RHP George Kontos was optioned to Triple-A Fresno before the game then learned he had been suspended for three days by Major League Baseball after being ejected Tuesday night for hitting McCutchen with a pitch. Kontos will not serve the suspension until he is recalled from the minor leagues. RHP Sandy Rosario was recalled from Fresno to take Kontos' place in the bullpen, and he gave up one run in 1 1/3 innings Tuesday. ... San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy was also suspended for one game for Tuesday's incident and served it Wednesday night. Bench coach Ron Wotus managed in Bochy's place. ... Pittsburgh RHP Gerrit Cole will make a second start Sunday, facing the visiting Dodgers. He will get at least one more start with LHP Wandy Rodriguez, RHP Jeanmar Gomez and RHP James McDonald on the disabled list. ... Gomez (strained right forearm) will begin an injury rehabilitation assignment Thursday night for Indianapolis. Gomez is scheduled to pitch four innings and will be on a 60-pitch limit. ... In the finale of the three-game series Thursday night, Giants RHP Matt Cain (4-3, 5.09) will face Pirates RHP Charlie Morton, who will be activated from the disabled list to make his first appearance since May 29, 2012. Morton underwent Tommy John surgery June 14, 2012.
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