Aug 22, 2015 9:08 PM by Ross Field
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Starling Marte hit a solo home run off George Kontos with two outs in the ninth inning, lifting the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 3-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Saturday.
Jung Ho Kang hit a pair of solo homers for the Pirates in the matchup of playoff contenders.
Marte sent the first pitch he saw from Kontos (2-2) into the sun-drenched seats in left field for his second career walkoff hit. Mark Melancon (3-1) needed six pitches to get through the top of the ninth to set up Marte's winner.
Pittsburgh's bullpen has won 18 straight decisions, the longest streak in the majors since 1909.
San Francisco starter Mike Leake allowed one hit in six innings but was removed for a pinch hitter with the tying run on third and one out in the seventh. Ehire Adrianza had an RBI single for the Giants.
Leake showed no ill effects of the left hamstring strain that sent him to the disabled list on Aug. 3. Manager Bruce Bochy put the newly acquired right-hander through the paces in pregame anyway, having Leake cover first and run the bases just to make sure.
Leake's mobility was never a problem, perhaps because the Pirates rarely made him take a step off the mound. He faced the minimum through the first four innings before Kang sent a fastball into the seats in center to tie the game at 1.
It was the only bobble by Leake. He needed only 77 pitches to get 18 outs but found a spot on the bench in the top of the seventh when Bochy decided to send pinch-hitter Kelby Tomlinson to the plate with the go-ahead run on third and one out.
The move didn't work out. Tomlinson lined out and Nori Aoki hit a grounder to end the threat. Pittsburgh starter Gerrit Cole, covering the bag, gave a fist pump as he collected the throw from Pedro Alvarez to finish off his best start in nearly a month.
Cole surrendered one run on three hits in seven innings, walking three and striking out eight.
Hunter Strickland came on for Leake and appeared to get out of a jam when Marte was caught stealing at third. Kang hit the next pitch 424 feet into the San Francisco bullpen to put the Pirates up 2-1.
Pittsburgh's normally reliable bullpen, however, faltered. Matt Duffy led off the eighth with a walk from Joakim Soria and eventually scored on a wild pitch to tie the game.
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