PHILADELPHIA — The Pirates have been getting contributions from up and down their lineup to win 10 times in the past 13 games.
On Thursday, it was Gaby Sanchez, who homered and drove in three runs, and Garrett Jones, who hit a go-ahead, two-run double, to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 6-4 comeback victory over the struggling Philadelphia Phillies.
“You don’t try to explain it,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “We just play the game, one at a time. I really like our focus and intensity.
“Everybody knows their role. Even if they don’t start, they stay prepared and ready to go.”
Justin Wilson (2-0) pitched two hitless innings in relief of James McDonald and the Pirates won their third straight. Taking the four-game series gave Pittsburgh its first series win in Philadelphia since April 4-6, 2003, at now demolished Veterans Stadium.
Ryan Howard went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, and Domonic Brown had a pair of doubles with an RBI for the Phillies, who have lost three straight games and eight of 11.
And the frustration was apparent in the eighth inning when Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was ejected by third-base umpire Dan Iassogna for arguing that Clint Barmes should have been called out for interference.
“We’re just not playing good baseball right now,” Manuel said. “We’re in a bad term, or whatever you want to call it. We’re trying and we have a lot of life, but we’re not getting it done. We’re in a period where we’re not playing good at all.”
After striking out Neil Walker to start the eighth inning, reliever Phillippe Aumont hit Barmes with a pitch and allowed consecutive singles to Travis Snider and Marte to load the bases with one out.
Jones, pinch-hitting for Brandon Inge, laced a double off the wall in right to put the Pirates ahead 5-3.
Chad Durbin replaced Aumont (1-3) and gave up Sanchez’s sacrifice fly that made it 6-3.
“I think it’s the way we stayed after it against a real good pitcher,” Hurdle said. “We didn’t back away. Our hitters came through.”
That was plenty for the stingy Pirates bullpen, which entered second in the majors with a 1.78 ERA. Tony Watson pitched the last two innings for his first career save while closer Jason Grilli had the day off.
The Phillies scored a pair of runs in the sixth on Howard’s RBI single and Brown’s sacrifice fly before the Pirates tied it in the top of the seventh on two-out RBI singles from Sanchez and Michael McKenry.
“I think as a team we know that even though it’s the seventh or eighth inning, we can put together some good at-bats,” Sanchez said.
Cliff Lee allowed three runs and 10 hits while striking out seven and walking one. The seventh inning was his undoing.
“That’s where I have to do a good job of keeping the lead,” Lee said, noting that both RBIs came on broken-bat hits. “I felt like I made some decent pitches. Things went their way that inning.”
He tried to steal second base after reaching on an infield single in the fifth, but was thrown out.
“Basically I had it,” Lee said. “I just got too antsy and took off too early.”
McDonald allowed three runs and five hits with three walks and four strikeouts in five-plus innings.
Brown hit a blooper that fell in for an RBI double in the fourth that made it 1-0 before Sanchez tied it with a leadoff homer in the sixth.
NOTES: Manuel’s ejection was his first of the season and 51st of his 12-year managerial career. ... Slumping Phillies outfielder Ben Revere didn’t start for the first time this season. He is batting .207 with 14 strikeouts in 87 at-bats. Ezequiel Carrera went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts in his place. ... McDonald, a career .100 hitter (14-for-140) entering Thursday, went 2-for-2 with a pair of singles. … Pittsburgh left-hander Jonathan Sanchez (0-2, 11.12) is slated to oppose Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn (3-0, 3.68) when the teams begin a three-game series tonight in St. Louis.