The Pittsburgh Pirates played many of the greatest baseball games a generations worth of fans had ever seen their team be a part of. Whether it was the night in May against Houston where a dropped pop-up led to a Pirates win, or a cold night in September when a ninth-inning Starling Marte home run followed by an excellent defensive play by Justin Morneau helped the Pirates clinch their first playoff birth in 21 years.
But one game stood above all the rest.
It was a warm afternoon in late June and the Pirates were in Anaheim visiting the Los Angeles Angels. Already riding a three-game winning streak after taking the last of a four-game series from the Cincinnati Reds as well as the first two games of the series against the Angels, the Pirates were somehow looking for their first ever road sweep of an interleague opponent.
The game began with Pedro Alvarez hitting a home run for the fourth consecutive game and the Bucs jumped out to an early one run lead, which would only be temporary. The Angels got to Pirates starter Charlie Morton in the bottom of the second and put a five-spot up on the scoreboard. Two costly errors by Alvarez and Neil Walker led to most of the damage, but nevertheless, the hopes of continuing the winning streak and sweeping the Angels seemed distant by this point.
However, the Bucs took advantage of some spotty Angels defense in the top of the third and pulled the score within two runs. Garrett Jones and Starling Marte would score to make the game 5-3. In the bottom of the fourth, Morton would yield another run as Brad Hawpe singled home J.B. Shuck to give the Halos a three run lead, one that would remain in tact until an tumultuous ninth inning.
A leadoff walk to Walker followed by a Gaby Sanchez single would put runners on first and third. Andrew McCutchen would ground into a fielders choice, scoring Walker, and the Pirates were down two. Russell Martin doubled to left, scoring McCutchen. Then Starling Marte, with a chance to tie the game, drove in Martin, and the game was tied up 6-6.
Mark Melancon pitched a perfect ninth for the Pirates, who loaded the bases in the top of the tenth for Travis Snider. Snider hit a sinking line-drive to Shuck who misplayed the ball, and all three runs came across to score. Martin would then knock in Snider, and the Pirates were up 10-6. But the game wasn't over yet.
Jason Grilli came on for the bottom of the tenth, and the Angels weren't ready to concede the win. RBI singles by Alberto Callaspo, Shuck and Brendan Harris brought the game within one run, and the tying run, Shuck, was standing at third base, and the winning run, Harris, advanced to second on a throw. Coming up to the plate was AL MVP finalist and the best player on the Halos, Mike Trout. In a titanic matchup with the game on the line, Grilli managed to strike Trout out swinging, and the Pirates came away with one of the most exciting wins in recent memory.
The team would extend the winning streak to nine games before dropping a July contest against the Philadelphia Phillies. After the win, the Pirates improved to 46-30, sixteen games over .500, which equaled their high-water mark from the 2012 season.
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