PITTSBURGH (AP) — Seth Smith worked a seven-pitch walk to load the bases with no outs in the sixth inning, and it looked as if San Diego would finally overcome a one-run deficit to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Padres came away with nothing instead. Vance Worley needed just two pitches to wiggle out of the jam, with Jedd Gyorko bouncing into a double play and Yonder Alonso popping up to left field, and Pittsburgh went on to a 2-1 victory.
With two of his team's hottest hitters at the plate in that situation, San Diego manager Bud Black called the result "frustrating."
"You want to be aggressive," Black said. "You don't want to fall behind. They've been swinging the bat well. You want them up there in that situation."
Gregory Polanco and Josh Harrison had three hits apiece for the Pirates, who have won three in a row and five of seven. Worley (5-1) struck out seven in seven innings of one-run ball.
Ian Kennedy (8-10) gave up two runs, one earned, and seven hits in six innings for San Diego. He struck out five and walked three.
"I tried to grind through it," Kennedy said. "It was a little bit of a battle. I fell behind a lot of guys, ran my pitch count up, so I was happy I was able to grind through it and get through six."
Kennedy escaped his own bases-loaded, no-out jam in the third, but Pittsburgh's two runs in the first held up.
"(The Padres) were able to get out of a bases-loaded jam earlier in the game," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "We were able to get one out and kind of hold serve on it and that was really the difference in the game for both teams."
Tony Watson preserved the one-run lead with a perfect eighth and Mark Melancon picked up his career-high 21st save by striking out the side in the ninth.
"We just couldn't get the big hit," Black said. "We had some opportunities but couldn't drive in the big run. We stressed Worley a couple of times but we couldn't break through."
San Diego scored in the first on Everth Cabrera's leadoff double, a sacrifice and Smith's sacrifice fly.
Pittsburgh responded with two in the bottom half. Harrison led off with a triple and scored on Polanco's single. Polanco later scored on Russell Martin's sacrifice fly.
The win moved the Pirates (62-53) a season-high nine games over .500, despite the recent absence of team leaders Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker.
Padres: Right-hander Andrew Cashner (shoulder) was set to make his first rehab start Friday for Single-A Lake Elsinore. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list June 23 with right shoulder soreness.
Pirates: McCutchen (rib) continues to add to his mobility and resistance exercises, according to manager Clint Hurdle, and is progressing in a "positive fashion."... Right-hander Gerrit Cole (lat) is slated to make a third rehab start Sunday for Triple-A Indianapolis. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list July 9. ... Walker (back) missed his third straight game. Hurdle said the second baseman "felt better" after taking batting practice.
Padres: Left-hander Eric Stults (4-13, 4.94 ERA) starts the middle game of the series. Stults has struggled on the road in 2014 with a 0-9 record and 5.78 ERA in 12 starts. He is 4-4 with a 3.98 ERA in 10 home outings.
Pirates: Left-hander Francisco Liriano (3-7, 3.91 ERA) will face San Diego for the fourth time in his career. Liriano is 2-1 with a 2.17 ERA in four starts since he was removed from the 15-day disabled list on July 13.
Two Padres will have relatives in the stands during their series at PNC Park. Right-hander Jesse Hahn and Gyorko both have local ties to the Pittsburgh area.
Hahn has family from Beaver County, about 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. Hahn will not pitch in the series after he started Tuesday's loss at Minnesota and San Diego had an off day Thursday.
Gyorko attended West Virginia University, and the campus is 75 miles due south of Pittsburgh in Gyorko's hometown of Morgantown, W. Va.