Down to their final out in the ninth, the San Diego Padres rallied for two runs and held off the Pittsburgh Pirates in the bottom half of the inning for a 3-2 win to take the first three games of this four-game series.
Mark Melancon (2-2), who had converted nine straight saves entering Wednesday's clash, took the hill in the top of the ninth in relief of Charlie Morton, who struck out a career-high nine batters over eight innings of work. Melancon surrendered singles to Jedd Gyorko and Chris Denorfia and with two outs, served up a single to right off the bat of pinch-hitter Logan Forsythe, tying the game.
Rene Rivera then stepped up and blooped a single down the right field line for the go-ahead run.
"In the ninth, we put together some at-bats," said San Diego manager Bud Black. "They looked for a couple pitches out over the plate, didn't try to do too much. We hit them in good spots."
Huston Street pitched a perfect ninth for his 31st save of the year. Dale Thayer (3-5) came on with one out in the eighth to earn the win.
Morton, who was in line for the win, yielded just a pair of hits and three walks while his counterpart Tyson Ross went seven strong frames for San Diego, getting reached for two runs while striking out seven.
"Great win," said Black. "Tyson pitched great. He didn't deserve to lose that game, so it's fitting that he didn't. A lot of players contributed there in the end, it was great."
The Pirates remain on top of the National League wild card but fall 2 games behind the Central leading Cardinals, who defeated the Rockies.
"When you're up, you try not to get to high, you enjoy the moment," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "When things don't work your way, you gotta be steadfast and keep plowing."
Morton held San Diego hitless through 3 1/3 innings before the Padres broke through for a run in the top of the fourth. Gyorko walked with one out and moved to third on Chase Headley's infield single, which deflected into right field off of Justin Morneau's diving glove. Tommy Medica then grounded sharply to third to plate Gyorko on the fielder's choice.
Neil Walker reached on a strike out and wild pitch with one out in the seventh, giving the Pirates their first baserunner off Ross since the second inning. Andrew McCutchen followed with his 20th home run of the season, a two- run shot to right-center which put the Pirates up 2-1.
Andrew Cashner, who tossed a one-hitter against Pirates two nights ago, pinch- ran for Gyorko in the ninth and scored the eventual game-winning run ... The Pirates fall to 10-31 against San Diego at PNC Park since 2001 ... McCutchen has three straight 20-homer seasons, the second player in franchise history to accomplish such a feat ... Morneau had two of Pittsburgh's three hits.