Pirates’ Marte hits walk-off homer in 10th
Starling Marte’s talent is without question. So is his often erratic attention to detail. In a few hours Sunday, the Pittsburgh Pirates centerfielder put the full spectrum on display.
Marte was picked off twice in the span of three innings as the Pirates tried to mount a comeback against Atlanta, then provided an RBI single in the eighth that gave his team life and finished an improbable rally with a two-run walk-off home run in the 10th in a 6-5 victory.
The Braves took the lead in the top of the 10th on an RBI groundout by Tyler Flowers but Adam Frazier doubled leading off bottom of the inning. Marte drove the next pitch from Ramirez (0-1) into the visitor’s bullpen beyond the center field fence as the Pirates completed their first three-game sweep of Atlanta since 1994.
“I had a feeling,” Marte said. “I knew I got barrel. The wind was so hard so out and helped me a little bit. I knew I got that one.”
Marte finished 4 for 5 with two runs and two RBIs. Frazier added three hits for the Pirates. Felipe Rivero (1-0) picked up the victory, the 100th walk-off in the 16-year history of PNC Park.
“If you want to be an elite team, you’ve got to come back and win games,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said.
And to be elite, the Pirates need Marte to thrive. The team moved him to center field in the offseason — supplanting star Andrew McCutchen — and tasked him with being a catalyst with both his glove and his bat.
“Probably, truly the only five-tool player I’ve ever played with,” Pittsburgh starter Gerrit Cole said. “He can just do so many special things, and today was a big difference-maker for us.”
Freddie Freeman hit his first two home runs of the season for Atlanta. Dansby Swanson added a solo shot but the Braves’ bullpen couldn’t hold a solid start by Julio Teheran, who left with a 4-2 lead after seven strong innings.
Johnson came on trying to protect a one-run lead in the ninth but the Pirates loaded the bases and tied it when Atlanta second baseman Brandon Phillips dropped the ball while trying to transfer it to his glove thanks to a hard but legal slide by David Freese.