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The Strike Zone

Gregory Polanco gets five hits, including game-winning HR in Pirates' defeat of Marlins

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Pirates prospect Gregory Polanco's first three major league games resulted in underwhelmingly similar performances, each yielding a single, a strikeout, and not much else. That changed Friday night as Polanco enjoyed not only the first multi-hit game of his career, but nearly doubled his career hit total with five hits. His first major league home run turned out to be an extra-inning game-winner against the Miami Marlins. In the process, he became the first player since 1933 to have a five-hit game before he had played his fifth game in the major leagues.

Batting leadoff for the second time in as many games, Polanco led off the game in Miami with a single and scored on Starling Marte's subsequent home run off Marlins starter Nathan Eovaldi. Polanco struck out in his second at-bat, but in the fifth he again led off with a single and came around to score as the Pirates increased their lead to 6-2. He was stranded after singles in the sixth and eighth, however, and the Marlins staged a wild comeback in the bottom of the ninth against Justin Wilson, Jason Grilli, and Mark Melancon. The ninth inning saw the Marlins score four runs on six walks (one intentional to Giancarlo Stanton, of course) and a two-RBI single by Reed Johnson.

CHEN: Pirates' Gregory Polanco is the next big thing

Polanco had a chance to give the Pirates the lead back in the top of the tenth with two outs and men on first and second. After battling Marlins closer Steve Cishek to a full count, he struck out looking at a slider that darted across the very bottom of the strike zone. Having gone 4-for-6, Polanco hardly needed redemption at that point, but he redeemed himself anyway in the top of the 13th against lefty specialist Mike Dunn. With one out and a runner on second, Polanco worked the count even, fouled off a slider, then, after a mound conference between Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis and Dunn, hit another slider 413-feet for his first major league home run,. He gave the Pirates an 8-6 lead they wouldn't surrender.

Incidentally, the Pirates didn't surrender that lead because Jeanmar Gomez pitched four scoreless innings of relief, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out four. He single-handedly ate up all of the Pirates' extra innings and picked up the win for his efforts. In doing so, Gomez tied teammate Stolmy Pimentel and the Diamondbacks' Josh Collmenter for the longest scoreless relief outing in a team win this season.

Polanco's five-hit outing, meanwhile, was just the 10th five (or more) -hit game this season with two by Cleveland's Lonnie Chisenhall. Since 1914, only two other players have had five-hit games in their first four major league games. In 1933, Senator's third baseman Cecil Travis, a future three-time All-Star, went 5-for-7, all singles, in his major league debut -- a 12-inning win over Cleveland. In 1918, Braves left fielder Red Massey went 5-for-6 with a double in his second major league game. Massey played just 66 games that season and never again appeared in the major leagues. Prior to Polanco, the earliest any player since 1914 had collected five hits and a home run in the same game was in their fifth major league game (Expos second baseman Mike Lansing in 1993).
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