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Pirates blitz Giants for 9,800th win

The SportsXchange

SAN FRANCISCO -- Pittsburgh Pirates slugger Pedro Alvarez didn't mind that he failed to hit a home run despite two prodigious blasts Thursday night.

What he didn't care for was having to run.

Alvarez had a pair of booming doubles and ran his season RBI total to 85 as the Pirates recorded the 9,800th win in franchise history in explosive manner, bombing the San Francisco Giants with a seven-run fifth inning en route to a 10-5 victory.

In the opener of a four-game series, the Pirates became the sixth major league team to reach the milestone, joining the Giants, Cubs, Braves, Dodgers and Yankees. The Reds and Cardinals are considered to be below that level because many of their wins came in the American Association.

Alvarez greeted reliever Jose Mijares with a two-run, ground-rule double, and Jose Tabata capped the game-turning fifth with a three-run double as the Pirates retained their one-game lead in the National League Central over St. Louis. The Cardinals won earlier in the evening.

Alvarez, who entered the game tied for the NL lead in home runs with 31, nearly added a pair to his total, but he fell victim to spacious AT&T Park.

"I had to run more than usual," he said of his third- and fifth-inning shots, both of which landed on the field of play before one-hopping into the bleachers. "Here in these big parks, we try to keep the same gap-to-gap approach."

Garrett Jones and Jordy Mercer managed to clear the fences for solo home runs off Giants starter Matt Cain, who left the game one batter into the fourth inning after getting hit in the right forearm by a line drive off the bat of Gaby Sanchez. X-rays were negative.

The homer by Jones sailed over the 25-foot-high brick wall in right field and landed in the San Francisco Bay. It was the third so-called "Splash Hit" at the ballpark this season, all of which have been hit by Giants opponents.

"It's a crazy game," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle of the offensive onslaught one day after the club couldn't get much of anything going in a 2-1 loss at San Diego. "It makes you laugh, it makes you cry. You've just got to roll with it."

The Giants, coming off a 12-1 shellacking at the hands of the Boston Red Sox, were able to overcome the home runs and rally into a 3-3 tie with a two-run fourth off Pirates starter Jeff Locke.

However, right-hander Guillermo Moscoso (1-2), who relieved the injured Cain an inning earlier, couldn't get anyone out in the fifth, hitting Tabata before walking Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen to load the bases.

"Our long guy (Moscoso) had trouble throwing strikes," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "That's a recipe for disaster."

Indeed it was. Alvarez's two-run hit made it 5-3 before sacrifice flies by Russell Martin and Sanchez increased the lead to four.

Tabata's crowning blow came after Locke, a .079 hitter entering the game, grounded a two-out single to left field to load the bases.

"That was a big inning for us. It came at a really nice time," Hurdle said. "That's a part of the game you like to see -- to get to Cain early, and to capitalize later like we did. That's good stuff."

Right-hander Jeanmar Gomez (3-0), who relieved Locke to start the bottom of the fifth, got the win after pitching three hitless innings.

Brandon Crawford's two-run, pinch-hit double in the eighth inning off the Pirates' third pitcher, Jared Hughes, completed the game's scoring.

Tabata, batting leadoff in place of injured Starling Marte, had three hits, and McCutchen, Alvarez and Mercer had two apiece for Pittsburgh. The Pirates outhit the Giants 13-8.

Brett Pill, starting in left field for the first time this season, had three of the Giants' hits, including a double.

Neither starting pitcher factored in the decision.

Hurdle pulled Locke after four innings despite the fact Pittsburgh led 10-3 and the left-hander was three outs away from his 10th win. Locke was generally ineffective in his stint, allowing three runs on five hits and four walks. He struck out three.

Cain surrendered the home runs by Jones and Mercer during his 3 1/3 innings. He allowed three runs on seven hits, striking out three. He didn't walk a batter.

"That's definitely not what I had planned," Cain said of his quest to get the Giants headed back in the right direction after Wednesday's debacle against the Red Sox. "I was making some bad pitches, and they weren't missing them."

Any good news for the Giants on this night came on Cain's X-rays.

"We were fortunate," Bochy said. "He was hit flush."

NOTES: The Pirates have now hit 14 home runs in their past 11 games. ... The "Splash Hit" by Jones was just the 28th by a Giants opponent in AT&T Park history and only the second by a Pirate. Adam LaRoche had the other in 2007. The Giants have 63 "Splash Hits." ... Pirates RHP Jason Grilli threw a 25-pitch bullpen session before the game, his first work off a mound in exactly a month since suffering a strained tendon in his right forearm. The Pirates hope to have their closer back on the roster in early September. ... Pirates LHP Wandy Rodriguez will see Dr. James Andrews next week after experiencing recurring pain in his left forearm while pitching in a simulated game at AT&T Park. Season-ending surgery is a possibility. ... Giants OF Andres Torres might be out for the season after he was placed on the disabled list with a left Achilles strain. The veteran is scheduled to see a foot specialist in North Carolina next week to discuss his options. Torres was replaced on the active roster by OF Francisco Peguero, who was promoted from Triple-A Fresno. ... Giants INF Nick Noonan joined Peguero on the trip north from Fresno, replacing LHP Mike Kickham on the roster. Kickham, who pitched in Wednesday's game, was demoted to Fresno.
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