PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — Heading into today’s game with the Philadelphia Phillies, the Pirates were 4-1 in games when the attendance is more than 30,000.
On Sunday, there were 35,505 in the house, which brought the three-game series total to 108,000 plus – the fourth largest total for a series in PNC Park history.
However, it was the Philadelphia fans who left happy as the Phillies used their stopper to stop the bleeding against the Pirates.
Roy Halladay pitched seven effective innings as the Phillies snapped a season-high four-game losing streak with a 7-3 victory to avoid a sweep.
The game started well for Bucs. Hometown boy Neil Walker hit a two-run home run in the first inning.
It was one of six Pittsburgh hits off Halladay (8-3), who had six strikeouts and one walk in tying for the most wins in the majors.
In the fifth inning, Pirates starting pitcher James McDonald ran into some trouble.
“I lost command really, didn’t have good feel, got behind hitters, walked guys – walks really killed me,” he said.
“There’s a lot of growth going on in there and we’ve got some guys that are probably experiencing playing in some games with some heightened awareness and importance that maybe they haven’t been in before,” said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. “No excuses, but he definitely lost his command, the command went south.”
Playing without leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins (bruised knee), the struggling Phillies offense – with seven runs in the previous four games – broke out with 14 hits and was aided by seven walks, two hit batters, two wild pitches and a passed ball.
Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard had three RBIs, Chase Utley was on base four times and Placido Polanco had two hits and scored twice.
“Whatever it takes to get us going is what matters; but you know after today, the last four days don’t matter anymore,” said Howard of the Phillies snapping their losing streak. “So, you want to take today, try to build on that, look towards tomorrow.”
So, for the second time this week, the Pirates failed to get to the .500 mark.
However, they did end up taking two out of three from the Phillies.
“I spoke to the guys just before the off day and I told them, ‘Hey, we’re pushing this thing forward.’ I said, we just played a weekend series here that’s about as good as you ever want to get in a regular season against a very good ball club and we won two out of three and we made them play all day to beat us the third game. So, we’re growing up,” said Hurdle. “We’ve got a lot of work to do; we’ve got a lot of areas we still need to improve in, but everything we had planned coming out of spring training, you know, we’re in the right direction.”
The Pirates are off on Monday. On Tuesday, the Arizona Diamondbacks come to town for a three-game series.