But they’re leaving Arizona with a win, which is all that really matters. Everything else can wait.
Jordy Mercer homered and had three RBIs, Jameson Taillon pitched seven effective innings and the Pirates avoided a sweep with a 5-4 victory over the Diamondbacks on Wednesday.
”We won. Let’s get on a plane and go home,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. ”We can peel back the layers later.”
The Pirates blew a five-run lead in the opener and were knocked for 13 runs in the second game. Pittsburgh ended Arizona’s sweep bid with a four-run second inning against Zack Greinke (5-5) and a sterling performance by Taillon (4-5).
Taillon gave up a two-run homer to David Peralta in the first inning when the ball popped out of left fielder Austin Meadows‘ glove and over the wall. Taillon got better as the game went along, working out of a jam in the second inning and allowing two runs on six hits to help end Arizona’s five-game winning streak.
Felipe Vazquez gave up a two-run single to pinch-hitter Jon Jay in the ninth before striking out Jake Lamb with the bases loaded for his 12th save.
”When you run into a team that’s pesky with two strikes, they’re tough to put away,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. ”You’re going to run into some situations when you make mistakes.”
Taillon has enjoyed pitching in the afternoon, entering Wednesday’s game 8-2, including 3-0 on the road before the sun goes down. He got an unfortunate break in the first inning, when Peralta’s deep shot caromed out of Meadows’ glove as he leaped near the wall.
Taillon struck out Paul Goldschmidt with the bases loaded to end the second inning and struck out four.
”It was a weird start, but I felt really good,” Taillon said. ”I kind of had that mindset Boone Logan Milwaukee Brewers Jersey , like let’s see if I could get my pitch count right through six.”
Greinke has been dominant at Chase Field the past two seasons, going 16-1 with 2.53 ERA at Chase Field since 2017.
Arizona’s ace struggled with his command against the Pirates, walking four while striking out seven. Greinke walked two in Pittsburgh’s four-run second inning, giving up a two-run double to Mercer and a run-scoring double to Josh Bell. Mercer hit a solo homer in the fourth to put Pittsburgh up 5-2.
Greinke was lifted after walking two in the fifth to load the bases with two outs. He allowed five runs on five hits and struck out seven.
”I felt good, but every time I put a pitch over the plate, they hit it good,” said Greinke, who had not lost at Chase Field since last Aug. 9 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. ”As long as I’m able to make good pitches it’s fine, but I wasn’t able to do that every time.”
One of the things the Pirates will look at when they get home is Meadows’ miscue that led to Peralta’s home run. He leaped to catch the ball just before colliding with the wall, but the ball appeared to carom out before contact was made.
”I haven’t said anything to him; we’ll show him the video,” Hurdle said. ”There’s room to go get the ball and it kind of looked like it was the fence or he drifted on the ball, there was hesitation. He had time to get under that ball or at least get to it quicker.”
Arizona reinstated C Jeff Mathis from paternity leave and optioned RHP Braden Shipley to Triple-A Reno. Mathis’ wife Mike Gesicki Color Rush Jersey , Jenna, gave birth to their second daughter on Sunday.
Pirates: C Francisco Cervelli returned to the lineup after missing three games while being monitored for post-concussion symptoms. He was struck on the mask by a foul ball Saturday against the Chicago Cubs.
Diamondbacks: LHP Robbie Ray (strained right oblique) is expected to throw about 50 pitches in his rehab start with Single-A Visalia on Thursday.
The Pirates have a day off before right-hander Chad Kuhl the Cincinnati Reds Friday at home. Kuhl is 1-1 with a 2.78 ERA in four career starts against the Reds.
Arizona RHP Matt Koch is 2-0 with a 5.29 ERA his past three starts heading into Thursday’s game against the New York Mets.
In a story Jan. 14 about the Immaculate Reception game in 1972, The Associated Press erroneously said in the publishable Editor’s Note at the end of the story that the touchdown came on the final play of the Raiders-Steelers game. There were 5 seconds left when Harris scored, it was not the final play.
A corrected version of the story is below:
AP Was There: Harris’ miracle TD gave Steelers playoff win
AP Was There: The Immaculate Reception led Steelers to playoff win over Raiders on Dec. 23, 1972
By HUBERT MIZELL
AP Sports Writer
PITTSBURGH (AP) – It may not happen again for a thousand Christmases the way it happened Saturday for Franco Harris and the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Oakland Raiders under the dark skies in Three Rivers Stadium.
Harris, the Steelers’ own black Italian Santa Claus, caught a fluttering Steeler pass that Oakland defender Jack Tatum had batted away and danced 42 yards for a touchdown to give Pittsburgh an incredible 13-7 National Football League playoff victory.
The last-gasp effort by Pittsburgh’s Central Division champions to leapfrog the Steelers into the American Conference finals came on fourth down play with five seconds left on the clock.
Oakland, king of the West Division, had seemingly been rescued after a miserable offensive afternoon when backup quarterback Kenny Stabler scrambled 30 yards to the goal with 1:13 remaining to give the Raiders a 7-6 edge.
When Pittsburgh lined up for its last shot at glory, the clock showed 51 seconds and the end zone was 80 yards away.
Quarterback Terry Bradshaw hoped to pass for quick gains, charging within range for a third Roy Gerela field goal that could win it.
The blond from Louisiana Tech rifled a nine-yard pass to Harris. An 11-yarder to John Fuqua pushed the ball to the Steeler 40, but the clock was down to 0:37.
And then: Incomplete. Incomplete. Incomplete. That led to fourth down and Oakland was 22 seconds away from bringing tears to the eyes of most of the 50.350 in the big circular stadium.
Bradshaw tried one last time Arden Key Color Rush Jersey , evading a rush by Oakland’s Tony Clines and Horace Jones. He threw up the middle toward Fuqua near the Raider 30.
Tatum slammed into Fuqua just as the ball arrived, sending the lootball sailing back toward the Pittsburgh goal. Harris, trailing the play, grabbed the ball and dashed toward the left sideline.
The left side began to open. Jimmy Warren, a veteran Oakland defensive back, had the last shot at the 230-pound rookie from Penn State , He missed and the Steeler faithful exploded from their seats.
Pittsburgh not only won, but sewed up the homefield advantage for the Dec. 31 steppingstone to Super Bowl VII against the winner of today’s other American Conference playoff between Cleveland and Miami.
”Fourth down, fourth down,” muttered John Madden, the losing coach from Oakland. ”It’s really unfair to lose like that. It wouldn’t happen that way again in a million years.”
Excited fans had to be hustled off the field by police as the Raiders protested that Tatum had not touched the ball, making it an illegal pass with two offensive men touching it in succession.
”He went up for the ball Will Hernandez Color Rush Jersey ,” Tatum said later. ”I believe it bounced off Fuqua. He was in front of me and I just hit him, not the ball.”
Fred Swearingen, the referee, talked with Art McNally, NFL supervisor of officials, in the press box by telephone. McNally had seen the replay on television.
After the discussion, the touchdown was allowed, although NFL officials later said the conversation between Swearingen and McNally had no actual bearing on the ruling.
The stadium almost cracked at the seams when the touchdown was signaled.
Finally authorities harnessed the bedlam so the final five seconds could be played.
All that happened was a kickoff return and one incomplete pass before time ran out for Oakland. Pittsburgh had waited 40 years to win even a division crown and now Chuck Noll, in his fourth season as the Steelers’ head coach, had them one step away from the Super Bowl.
For most of the game it seemed that Gerela’s field goals of 18 and 29 yards would stand up for a 6-0 victory in what had been a bitter battle of defenses.
Then came Stabler, a substitute near-hero. Then came Harris, the man who is half Italian Sampo Ranta Blackhawks Jersey , half black and all football player.
”I couldn’t even see what was happening because somebody rapped me,” said Bradshaw. ”But I’ll watch it all day Sunday on television reruns and enjoy it every time.”
Saturday’s first half was scoreless as the two man-handling defenses played to a standstill.
Noll passed up a shot at a 38-yard field goal and it appeared a crucial move when the Steelers ran short on a fourth-and-one situation.
Bradshaw came out firing in the second half, hitting five times for 55 yards as Pittsburgh moved 67 yards to the Oakland 11. The march stalled there and Gerela’s 18-yard field goal made it 3-0 with 9:52 left in the third quarter.
Oakland’s offense continually sputtered under No. 1 quarterback Daryle Lamonica and the onrushing Pittsburgh defense held him to 6-of-18 passing for 44 yards.
Stabler, the shaggy-haired former Alabama star, trotted onto the field with 11:2 to go in the game. He seemed to ignite Oakland a bit, but then fumbled when rapped by Steeler defensive end Dwight White at the Raider 35 with 5:50 on the clock.
Mike Wagner covered Stabler’s fumble and it led to Gerela’s three-pointer from 29 yards that made it 6-0 with 3:50 remaining. It seemed enough at .