Sean Rodriguez caps return to Pittsburgh Pirates with game-winning homer vs. San Diego Padres

By Shelly Anderson, The Sports Xchange  |  Aug. 6, 2017 at 8:17 PM
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PITTSBURGH -- Sean Rodriguez, picked up off of waivers Saturday, had 72 hours to report to the Pirates. But Pittsburgh, where he spent the previous two seasons as something of a super sub, felt like home.

So Rodriguez rushed to get to PNC Park an hour or so before Sunday's game against the San Diego Padres. He got into the game at second base in the eighth inning to a nice cheer from the crowd, moved to first in the 11th and had his shining moment in the 12th.

That's when Rodriguez led off the inning with a walk-off homer for a 5-4 Pittsburgh win over the Padres.

"That's storybook," Pittsburgh starter Jameson Taillon said. "I think everyone had a good vibe that Sean was going to do something big in that spot."

Rodriguez hit a 2-1 pitch to left off of Buddy Baumann (0-1). It was the third career walk-off homer for Rodriguez, who missed the first half of the season while with Atlanta recovering from an offseason car accident.

"When I made contact, I definitely knew I hit it hard enough to get out," Rodriguez said. "I'm obviously thinking to hit something hard and drive it, but I was actually thinking of back to the middle of the field."

Before the game, Rodriguez got loads of high-fives in his return to the Pirates' clubhouse and proclaimed, "I feel like a Pirate again."

Several hours later, after the walk-off homer, that feeling deepened.

"It's definitely multiplied," Rodriguez said. "Deep down I never felt like I stopped being a Pirate."

Dovydas Neverauskas (1-0) pitched two innings for his first major league win.

The Pirates (54-57) won their second game in a row to take the weekend series from the Padres (49-61). It was Pittsburgh's first series win after dropping the previous four series.

San Diego (49-61), which tied it on Manuel Margot's two-run single in the ninth, lost for the third time in four games.

Pittsburgh closer Felipe Rivero entered in the eighth with a 4-2 lead and was looking for a four-out save but instead blew the lead.

Rivero loaded the bases by walking Hunter Renfroe, giving up a single to Austin Hedges and walking pinch hitter Hector Sanchez. Margot tied it with a base hit to left field.

"It was one of those days he didn't have the weapons he's had every other time out," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Rivero.

"It was good to see us come back late," Padres manager Andy Green said. "In the middle of the game, we had way too many empty at-bats."

Taillon allowed two runs and five hits in 6 2/3 innings with eight strikeouts and two walks. Taillon started slowly by allowing two runs in the first but retired 12 consecutive batters between the third and seventh.

"I just felt from the get-go today was a little different. My stuff felt good," said Taillon, who was coming off two rough outings where he allowed a combined 17 earned runs on 20 hits in 6 2/3 innings.

All four runs San Diego starter Clayton Richard gave up were unearned, thanks to third baseman Cory Spangenberg's error at the start of the Pirates' four-run third. Richard allowed five hits in six innings, with five strikeouts and one walk.

The Padres scored twice in the first.

Margot walked leading off and scored on Spangenberg's two-out RBI single. After Wil Myers singled Spangenberg to third, Spangenberg scored on a wild pitch by Taillon to make it 2-0.

Pittsburgh erased the deficit in the third.

Andrew McCutchen's single to left brought home Chris Stewart, who led off the inning by reaching on Spangenberg's error. After David Freese was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Jose Osuna hit a bases-clearing double down the right field line to drive in three for a 4-2 Pirates lead.

"There were only a couple of pitches that got away from me and they were in that (third) inning," Richard said. "I made a good pitch to Osuna. He did a good job putting the ball in play down the right field line. Pulled one to McCutchen that he did a good job hitting. You make a mistake to a guy like that and he's going to take advantage."

NOTES: Pittsburgh 1B Josh Bell and C Francisco Cervelli were given the day off from the starting lineup. ... Pittsburgh IF/OF Sean Rodriguez, reacquired Saturday on waivers, arrived and was activated. The Pirates correspondingly optioned INF Max Moroff to Triple-A Indianapolis. ... San Diego manager Andy Green was ejected in the 11th inning by plate umpire Tripp Gibson.

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