PITTSBURGH — A pitcher’s duel turned into a bitter loss for the Giants.
Starling Marte hit a walk-off homer to left to give the Pirates a 3-2 win at PNC Park. George Kontos had struck out the first two batters of the ninth on six pitches, but he left a cutter over the middle and Marte blasted it.
It took just 40 minutes to play the first three innings, as Mike Leake retired the first nine hitters he faced and Gerrit Cole allowed just a walk the first time through the order. Buster Posey broke up the combined no-hitter with a fourth-inning single and the Giants shattered the shutout in the fifth. Gregor Blanco drew a one-out walk, stole second, went to third on an error, and scored when Ehire Adrianza sliced a changeup into left field.
Leake allowed just one ball out of the infield through the first four innings, but rookie Jung Ho Kang took him way deep to center while leading off the fifth. The homer ended the brief no-hit bid and tied the game.
The Giants had Cole on the ropes a couple of times but couldn’t deliver the big hit. With runners on the corners and one out in the sixth, Cole whiffed Marlon Byrd and Brandon Crawford. With Blanco on third and one out in the seventh, pinch-hitter Kelby Tomlinson lined out to second and Nori Aoki grounded out to first.
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Former Pirates prospect Hunter Strickland entered in the seventh and immediately ran into trouble when Marte hit a leadoff double. Marte inexplicably took off for third two batters later and was thrown out by Strickland, but the very next pitch was crushed to left-center. Strickland threw a 98 mph fastball down in the zone to Kang and he hit another no-doubter.
The Giants tied it up an inning later. Matt Duffy drew a leadoff walk and got to third on a single and grounder. He raced home when Joakim Soria spiked a breaking ball that got away.
Starting pitching report: Leake was sharp in his first start after missing three with a hamstring strain. He allowed just one hit in six innings and struck out six. Leake was pulled for a pinch-hitter in the seventh and threw just 77 pitches.
Bullpen report: Chris Stewart had been 2-for-2 against George Kontos since the two were traded for each other in 2012. Kontos finally retired Stewart when Blanco made a diving catch on a sinking liner to center.
At the plate: Byrd’s second day was not quite like the first. He went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
In the field: Marte jumped and reached over the short porch in left to rob Brandon Crawford of a homer in the second inning. The blast would have been Crawford’s 20th.
Attendance: The Pirates announced a crowd of 38,259 human beings. They tried and failed to do the wave.
Up next: Pennsylvania resident Ryan Vogelsong pitches the finale for the Giants, while Francisco Liriano, a former Giant, starts for the Pirates.