PITTSBURGH (AP) — Sergio Santos had a chance to close the door for the Toronto Blue Jays.
The struggling closer blew it again, allowing two home runs in the ninth, including Starling Marte’s winner in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 6-5 victory Friday night.
“It’s just one of those stretches,” said Santos, who has blown three of his last four save opportunities. “Probably the toughest one I’ve been through in my career. It just seems like everything I throw, they barrel up and hit.”
Santos (0-2) entered with a 5-3 lead and allowed a leadoff single to Neil Walker. He struck out Andrew McCutchen, and Pedro Alvarez followed with his seventh homer this season, a two-run shot that tied the game.
Pinch-hitter Ike Davis flied out, but Marte hit the first game-ending homer of his big league career over the center-field wall. It was the Blue Jays’ eighth loss in 10 games.
“We’ve coughed up way too many early this season, that’s for sure,” manager John Gibbons said. “We’ve definitely got to get better and if that means adjusting some things, that’s what we’ve got to do.”
McCutchen had three hits for Pittsburgh, which outhit the Blue Jays 17-10. The Pirates won for just the third time in 13 games and the fifth time in their last 20.
Pirates starter Gerrit Cole allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings, failing to reach the sixth for the first time in six starts this season. Cole said he was “a little off” Friday night.
“I wasn’t executing a handful of pitches there,” Cole said. “They beat me on some good pitches.”
Toronto’s Brandon Morrow gave up three runs and 11 hits in five innings. After walking eight batters in his last start, Morrow walked just one Friday.
“I just forgot about that and went out and threw the way I’d been throwing before that,” Morrow said. “I wasn’t thinking about that and I don’t think it was strange to come out and have good command today.”
In his first at-bat in Pittsburgh since 2008, Jose Bautista hit a two-out double in the first and scored on a double by Edwin Encarnacion.
Pittsburgh took a 2-1 lead on Jordy Mercer’s run-scoring, double-play grounder in the second and McCutchen’s RBI single in the third.
Colby Rasmus hit his sixth homer of the season in the fourth, a two-run drive, and Bautista had an RBI double in the fifth that made it 4-2.
McCutchen’s run-scoring single cut the deficit in the bottom half, but Toronto regained a two-run lead in the sixth on pinch-hitter Steve Tolleson’s run-scoring, two-out triple off Justin Wilson.
Hurdle was keen not to forget about Casey Sadler making his major league debut Friday night. Sadler pitched two scoreless innings, gave up a hit and struck out one.
“He was able to come in and keep the game right where it was,” Hurdle said. “Not to be lost in everything else that went on because he kept it right there at a two-run deficit.”
NOTES: Bautista has a 12-game hitting streak and has reached based in all 29 games he’s played this season. … Toronto knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (2-3, 5.09 ERA) is scheduled to start Saturday against Francisco Liriano (0-3, 3.97).