SEATTLE (AP) – Clint Hurdle speaks with great appreciation for what Sean Rodriguez brings defensively, playing wherever Pittsburgh needs him to be in the field.
It was his bat, though, that carried the Pirates on Wednesday night.
“He’s as good a defender as I’ve run across wherever you put him. … He’s a gifted defender and he’s having one of his better offensive seasons so far this half,” Hurdle said.
Rodriguez doubled in consecutive at-bats and drove in four runs, David Freese hit a solo home run and Pittsburgh beat the Seattle Mariners 8-1 to split a two-game interleague series.
Rodriguez was responsible for breaking the game open in the fifth inning with a three-run double into the left-field corner off Seattle reliever Donn Roach. Rodriguez doubled an inning earlier off starter Wade Miley (6-4) to score Starling Marte.
Freese got it all started with a solo home run on the first pitch of the second inning. It was a three-run inning for Pittsburgh, capped by a two-run double from Josh Harrison.
All that offense backed a strong start from rookie right-hander Jameson Taillon, who pitched six innings, giving up just one run and six hits. Making his fifth career start, Taillon (2-1) overcame a shaky first inning and retired 10 straight at one point. He struck out six and didn’t allow a walk.
Taillon made some adjustments from his last start against the Dodgers when he was knocked out after four innings and giving up eight hits and four runs. His curveball was sharp, and Taillon relied more on his sinking fastball that had a number of Seattle hitters swinging over the top.
Hurdle thought Taillon’s final four pitches to get Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager to finish off the sixth inning with two runners on might have been his best.
“Even though the game is 8-1, I don’t want to give up those runs,” Taillon said. “I wanted to really put the foot on the gas there and set the tone still. I knew I was close to being done so I let them eat and was aggressive with them.”
Miley was making his first start since June 12 after a brief stint on the disabled list due to an impingement in his left shoulder. He was lucky to make it through the fourth, leaving pitches up in the strike zone and watching them get hit hard.
“A lot of mistakes up over the plate and he had a hard time getting in rhythm with any of his pitches,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said.
Freese’s opposite-field home run into the first row down the right-field line was just the start. Rodriguez’s double in the fourth gave Pittsburgh a 4-0 lead, and he scored on Jordy Mercer’s sharp single. Roach took over in the fifth and was greeted by consecutive one-out singles by Freese and Jung Ho Kang. Marte walked and Rodriguez’s hard shot just inside third base bounced into the corner and allowed all three runners to score.
Rodriguez doubled his RBI output for the entire month of June entering the game. Between June 1 and June 23, Rodriguez appeared in 21 games without an RBI.
If the pitching performances from Miley and Roach weren’t bad news enough, the Mariners lost catcher Steve Clevenger in the third inning to a broken bone in his right hand after taking a foul ball square on the exposed hand off the bat of Andrew McCutchen. Clevenger fractured the third metacarpal, and Seattle will require a roster move to fill the backup catcher role.
Pirates: RHP Ryan Vogelsong will throw a simulated game this weekend in Oakland after throwing a bullpen session on Tuesday. Vogelsong suffered facial fractures when he was hit in the left eye with a pitch in late May. He’s eligible to come off the disabled list on July 23.
Mariners: Seattle placed reliever Nick Vincent on the 15-day disabled list with a back strain to clear a spot for Miley. Vincent said he’s been dealing with the discomfort for about two weeks and finally decided rest was the best course. Vincent has made a team-high 35 appearances.
Pirates: After an off day on Thursday, the Pirates open a series on Friday against Oakland with Jeff Locke (7-5) getting the start.
Mariners: Seattle opens a four-game series with Baltimore on Thursday and Taijuan Walker (3-6) on the mound after missing his last start due to a sore ankle.
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