by Will Graves
Associated Press Writer
PITTSBURGH (AP)—Jose Tabata slid, stuck out his glove and popped up as if he knew what he was doing.
With a flick of the wrist, the Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder threw the ball to second baseman Neil Walker, who then fired to first to double off Los Angeles’ Matt Kemp.
Did Tabata really catch the sinking liner by Juan Uribe that ended up being the turning point in Pittsburgh’s 4-1 win on Monday night?
|BREAKING OUT OF SLUMP—Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs on Saturday against the Astros. (Courier Photos/Thomas Sabol)
“In the moment, hey, I got it,” Tabata said.
Third base umpire Mike DiMuro agreed, ruling it an out even though replays appeared to show otherwise, all the spark the surging Pirates needed to move above .500 in mid-May for the first time in seven years.
Tabata’s acting and some timely hitting lifted Pittsburgh to its third straight victory.
Uribe and Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly were ejected disputing the call, and the Pirates responded following their departure by scoring three runs in the eighth to move to 18-17 on the season.
It’s not much, but for a club battling to snap a streak of 18 consecutive losing seasons, it’s something to build on.
“We’re going on from here,” said Pittsburgh centerfielder Andrew McCutchen. “We’re just wanting to carry it over.”
Garrett Jones led off the eighth with a walk before Walker laced a shot into the right-field corner off Los Angeles starter Chad Billingsley (2-2). Pinch-runner Xavier Paul scored all the way from first to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead.
Lyle Overbay and Ryan Doumit Doumit—whose three-run homer in the eighth against the Astros on Sunday brought the team back to .500—followed with a pair of run-scoring doubles to make a winner out of Jose Veras (1-1).
Doumit went 3 for 4 while Jones added two hits for the Pirates.
Joel Hanrahan worked his way out of a little trouble in the ninth to pick up his 11th save.
Pittsburgh starter Jeff Karstens allowed one run in 5 2-3 innings, striking out two and walking two. He ran into trouble in the sixth after a walk and a single put two on.
Manager Clint Hurdle has done his best to downplay his team’s modest start, calling the .500 mark just another milepost on getting the Pirates where they want to go.
Overbay agreed. It’s still May. The season has yet to be defined.
“We’ve got a long ways to go,” Overbay said. “I don’t think we’re where we need to be anyway. We haven’t hit nearly as good as we should.”