Rajai Davis had a bead on it.
The ball sailed high and deep and into the right-centerfield gap and before it landed, Davis dove for it. Rounding second base, Pirates pinch-runner Gorkys Hernandez reversed for it. He nearly crossed paths with pinch-hitter Josh Harrison, who hit it.
But Davis didn’t make the catch. And Hernandez didn’t touch second base on his way to third – he was called out after the Tigers appealed it – but in this time-consuming game of Tuesday night baseball, it didn’t matter.
“It was,” right-hander Alex Wilson said of the play, “A mess.”
And one batter later, Neil Walker mopped up the Pirates’ mess of a game with men on the bases with a game-winning RBI double to rightfield.
The Pirates won, 5-4, in 14 innings.
“The guys battled and we lost,” manager Brad Ausmus said.
They lost after Justin Verlander struggled early but steadied the ship. They lost after a potential three-run home run was tampered with by a fan in rightfield. They lost after going 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position and stranding 12 runners.
“We had some opportunities,” J.D. Martinez said. “We just didn’t get the big hit.”
But long before the game had been decided, trailing by two runs in the eighth inning, Martinez once again came up with the big hit.
He hit a game-tying two-run home run, his 20th of the season, to start the game anew.
It was Martinez’s sixth to tie the game or take the lead and his 11th of June, tied for third-most in team history.
The Tigers’ bats went silent from there – “We just couldn’t get anything going,” Ausmus said – and after threatening with two singles in the 14th inning, were silenced for good when Victor Martinez grounded into a game-ending double play.
After throwing 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, Wilson was pulled after allowing a one-out single to Chris Stewart. He threw a career-high 56 pitches. Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny took the loss on the Walker double.
“I wanted to keep going,” Wilson said. “I felt pretty good. I felt a little tired at the end but overall, I thought it was a good night for me.”
Five hours earlier – with the calendar not yet flipped from June to July – it was a pitching matchup of the former ace against the future ace, Verlander against young Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole.
And for the second time this year, Verlander struggled early and Cole stymied the Tigers.
The veteran settled in after three subpar innings to open his third start of the year and threw six innings, allowing two runs – one earned – on six hits. He walked five, struck out three and threw 103 pitches.
“As it went along, I was able to reel it in a little bit,” Verlander said. “I pitched better as the game went on.”
Verlander missed the first two months of the season with a right triceps strain, his last start with mid-back tightness and reported no issues after the game.
“I was just missing on a lot of pitches and those pitches, if I’m in a groove, are on the corner and aren’t just off,” he said. “After the third inning, it was just go and attack these guys. Make them hurt me and not the other way around – I was kind of hurting myself.”
The Pirates put at least three men on base in each of the first three innings. They, too, struggled scoring runners, going 2-for-16 with 19 men left on base.
Cole didn’t need any help but received some on McCann’s deep fly ball with two men on in the fifth inning.
Intially ruled a RBI double, it was upheld after a lengthy umpire’s review.
“I knew it had the distance,” McCann said. “But I knew I was just a tick out front.”
Cole threw 6 2/3 innings, allowing two runs – one earned – on nine hits. He struck out six, walked nobody and was chased by Ian Kinsler’s RBI double in the seventh inning.
And after the Pirates tacked on an insurance run charged to Al Alburquerque but allowed on a Joba Chamberlain single to Andrew McCutchen.
J.D. Martinez erased that deficit by looping a long drive over the left-centerfield fence, but the Tigers were unable to score the rest of the way, blanked by the Pirates bullpen over the final six innings.
“Again, we battled back,” Ausmus said. “But we were unable to put that final run on the board.”
And after a big baserunning blunder, the Pirates were.
Detroit Tigers Miguel Cabrera walks through the Tigers dugout after the Pirates defeated the Tigers 5-4 in 14 innings on Tuesday, June 30, 2015.