Jacob Stallings hits 2-run, walk-off home run to lift Pirates past Giants

·5 min read

May 16—Echoing a rallying cry from their glory days, Pittsburgh Pirates fans chanted the surname of Johnny Cueto in an attempt to once again rattle the San Francisco Giants starting right-hander at PNC Park.

Unlike the 2013 NL wild card game, Cueto didn't drop the ball.

By the end, however, Pirates fans were celebrating a home run.

Jacob Stallings hit a two-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift the Pirates to an 8-6 comeback victory over the Giants on Saturday night before a crowd of 7,833 at PNC Park.

It was the highest announced attendance of the season, topping the 7,749 at the home opener on April 8, and fans got to see the Pirates (17-22) win on a walk-off for the second consecutive game after Gregory Polanco's sacrifice fly sealed a 3-2 win in 11 innings on Friday night.

"It was a crazy game," Stallings said, who dropped his bat and strutted to first after crushing Jake McGee's 0-1 fastball. "Obviously, coming off that big win last night, I think that's probably more pumped up than I usually get, more emotional than I usually get. It's just that kind of game. A lot of big pitches by our pitchers. Big swings by our guys"

None were bigger than two by Stallings, who went 3 for 5 with four RBIs and had a two-run double in the four-run seventh before his game-ending heroics. Since enduring an 0-for-19 stretch in mid-April, Stallings is batting .300 (15 for 50) with six doubles, three home runs and eight RBIs.

"I think he's trying to do damage," said Pirates manager Derek Shelton, who watched Stallings' homer on a delayed feed from inside the home clubhouse after an eighth-inning ejection. "He's trying to impact the baseball on every swing, and I think we're seeing the results of it."

Adam Frazier led off the ninth with a single to left off McGee. Bryan Reynolds followed with a double to the left-field corner, but Frazier was thrown out at home on the relay from Mike Tauchman to shortstop Brandon Crawford to catcher Curt Casali at the plate.

Stallings followed with his third homer of the season, a 400-foot no-doubter to left. The Giants (23-16), who entered with the best record in the National League, will try to salvage a series split on Sunday.

San Francisco got off to a fast start when Darin Ruf drove a Tyler Anderson 3-1 fastball 415 feet to center for a 1-0 lead. Anderson got Evan Longoria to ground out to short and Wilmer Flores to pop up, but the ball flew high and dropped in front of Stallings for a single.

It was the second time this week the Pirates botched an infield fly. On Tuesday, third baseman Erik Gonzalez missed a Tucker Barnhart pop-up in the ninth inning of the 7-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds but the Pirates recovered to throw Eugenio Suarez out at second base.

Anderson should have been out of the first inning with minimal damage. Instead, the next batter, Brandon Crawford, made the Pirates pay by smacking a 394-foot shot to right to give the Giants a 3-0 lead.

"Usually that gets caught. And you hope that gets caught," Anderson said. "It doesn't get caught and, unfortunately you give up a two-run homer afterwards. Just one of those things where wasn't really sure who wanted it, and then, it just kind of drops, you know?"

Crawford added a leadoff double in the third, and scored on Mauricio Dubon's two-out single to right to stretch the lead to 4-0.

The Pirates cut it to 4-2 in the fifth, which ended with a questionable decision to send Ka'ai Tom home on a shallow fly to right. Will Craig hit a leadoff single, and Ben Gamel followed with a double to right. Craig scored when Erik Gonzalez hit one off Cueto's foot for what was initially ruled an infield single before the Giants challenged and got it overturned on review.

Tom's single to right scored Gamel, and Adam Frazier doubled to put runners on second and third. The Giants pulled Cueto after 4 1/3 innings, replacing him with Zack Littell. Ruf caught Kevin Newman's fly ball and threw a strike to home plate to get Tom, who took a chance with two outs despite having Bryan Reynolds in the on deck circle.

Reynolds led off the sixth inning with a line drive off the Clemente Wall for what appeared to be a double after second base umpire Erich Bachdus called him. The Giants challenged and, after a one-minute, 26-second review, the call was overturned. Ruf was credited with throwing Reynolds out at second to third baseman Evan Longoria.

Those two baserunning plays cost the Pirates a pair of potential runs, and the Giants capitalized when Mike Tauchman's two-run homer to right field off reliever Kyle Keller extended their lead to 6-2 in the sixth.

The Pirates rallied for four runs in the seventh, when two Giants relievers walked two batters, hit two others and gave up two run-scoring hits. It started with Kevin Newman's single down the right field line that scored Erik Gonzalez to cut it to 6-3.

Camilo Doval hit Reynolds with a pitch to load the bases, then threw a wild pitch that allowed Troy Stokes Jr. to score. Stallings followed with a game-tying, two-run double down the third base line to score Newman and Reynolds to make it 6-6.

Stallings then topped that with the homer for the walk-off win.

"Stalls is the man," Anderson said. "He's somebody who you know is always prepared, always working, always ready whenever his opportunity comes up. Whether it's hitting or defensively, whatever. ... Like, unfazed, awesome at-bats. Great at-bats. Just a great day. I'm really pumped for Stalls, and for everybody. That's a good win all the way around."

Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin by email at kgorman@triblive.com or via Twitter .