Polanco helps with tarp, then triples as Pirates top Padres

PITTSBURGH -- Gregory Polanco had the go-ahead hit in the eighth inning after helping with a save in the third.

Polanco helped free a grounds crew member trapped underneath a billowing tarp, then hit a triple that sent the Pittsburgh Pirates past the San Diego Padres 3-2 Tuesday night.

Polanco and fellow Pirates outfielders Andrew McCutchen and Sean Rodriguez made the play of the game at the start of a 1 hour, 42 minute rain delay in the top of the third inning.

Strong winds and rain caused the tarp to start swelling as the grounds crew at PNC Park struggled to cover the infield, and a worker was swallowed up. McCutchen, Polanco and Rodriguez came from the dugout to help pull the tarp off him.

"Get him out as quickly as possible," Rodriguez said when asked about his first reaction. "Some people are going to be claustrophobic immediately and start to kind of struggle a little bit. Right away I didn't know he was going to come out as calm as he did. I was just thinking pull off as much tarp as I can and see if I can lighten up whatever might have wrapped him up."

It was 2-all when Rodriguez was hit by pitch from Joaquin Benoit (5-4) leading off the eighth. The .232-hitting Polanco tripled with two outs, giving the Pirates their fourth straight win.

"That was a pretty swing (Polanco) put on the ball," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's had a lot better swings lately."

McCutchen doubled, singled and set a career high by extending his hitting streak to 14 games. He had a 13-gamer as a rookie in 2009.

Tony Watson (2-1) pitched a scoreless eighth and Mark Melancon worked the ninth for his NL-leading 28th save.

Matt Kemp doubled in both Padres' runs in the third after resumed. San Diego lost its fourth straight game and was held to two runs or fewer for the seventh time in eight games.

McCutchen doubled home a run in the third and Jung Ho Kang tripled in the tying run in the fifth.

Pittsburgh starter Francisco Liriano allowed two runs and four hits in six innings with six strikeouts and a walk.

Padres starter Tyson Ross was pulled after the delay. He worked two scoreless innings.

Kemp and Clint Barmes had two hits apiece for the Padres.

"We've pretty solid baseball for the most part all season but we just seem to have a hard time finding a way to win the close games," Barmes said. "You look at this lineup and it's a little baffling why we haven't scored more runs. It's not for a lack of effort."


Padres: 3B Will Middlebrooks, who had been limited by a sore left ankle, made his first start since June 28 and went 1 for 4. ... C Tim Federowicz, recovering from arthroscopic right knee surgery, is on course to begin a rehab assignment next week at low Class A Fort Wayne.

Pirates: LF Starling Marte missed his second straight game because of a strained left oblique.


San Diego RHP Andrew Cashner (3-9, 4.06 ERA) faces RHP Charlie Morton (6-2, 4.30) in Wednesday night's series finale. Cashner is 1/3 lifetime against the Pirates despite a sparkling 0.95 ERA in six games, including two starts. Morton is 4-1 with a 2.65 ERA against San Diego in six career starts.