The Sports Xchange

By Nate Barnes, The Sports Xchange

Ross, Padres recover from slow start

PITTSBURGH -- Gregory Polanco's two-run homer in the first inning helped his team at the end but benefited San Diego Padres starter Tyson Ross in the long run.

"I thought he battled without his best stuff and his best command," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Hanging slider to Marte to lead off the game and then a hanging slider to Polanco, I think that kind of woke him up a bit."

Ross went on to pitch six solid innings and right fielder Seth Smith drove in three runs with a triple in the fifth inning to lead the Padres to a 8-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.

Ross (11-10) gave up two runs, six hits and two walks. He lasted at least six innings for the 19th time in his past 23 starts.

"I gave up three hits in the first inning, all on sliders that were up in the strike zone, and it's kind of out of the norm for me," Ross said. "So I just put that first inning behind me and really just tried to bare down and make an adjustment moving forward."

The Padres added to their lead in the seventh inning when first baseman Yonder Alonso drove in his second run of the day with a sacrifice fly.

In the ninth inning, Pirates right-hander Jeanmar Gomez issued three walks to load the bases and second baseman Jedd Gyorko drove in two with a single.

Padres right-handers Blaine Boyer, Dale Thayer and Tim Stauffer each worked a scoreless inning in relief to close out the victory.

San Diego's win clinched a 14th consecutive series victory at PNC Park.

Polanco staked the Pirates to an early lead with his sixth home run of the season, a two-run shot off Ross in the first inning, after center fielder Starling Marte led off with a single.

Pirates right-hander Charlie Morton was in a groove for the first three innings, retiring the first 10 batters he faced before walking third baseman Yangervis Solarte with one out in the fourth inning. Solarte advanced to second on a groundout and scored on Alonso's RBI single to cut Pittsburgh's lead to 2-1.

"In the fourth inning, the sinker away to left-handers started elevating," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "A couple left-handers were able to get balls out over the plate and hit them to left field."

The Pirates had a chance to answer in the fourth inning after shortstop Jordy Mercer led off with a walk and left fielder Travis Snider singled. Second baseman Jayson Nix hit into a double play and catcher Chris Stewart struck out looking to end the threat.

"We hit the mistakes (from Ross) early and we weren't able to get anything after that basically for the rest of the day," Hurdle said.

San Diego continued to attack Morton in the fifth inning and Smith hit a three-run triple with the bases loaded. Smith scored on wild pitch for a 5-2 Padres lead.

Morton looked like he would nip the scoring chance in the bud when he went up 0-2 on Solarte with two outs but then hit him with a back-foot curveball to load the bases.

"I didn't put him away when I needed to on that 0-2 pitch and that's what really hurt," Morton said.

Morton (5-11) was done after five innings. He gave up five runs, five hits and a walk and struck out five.

"It was almost like two outings for him," Hurdle said. "One through three and then four and five, it's just two different sides of it."

NOTES: 2B Neil Walker (back) was scratched from the Pirates' lineup Sunday. A move to the disabled list could be likely. ... Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen (rib) was out of the lineup for the sixth straight game. ... Pirates RHP Gerrit Cole (shoulder) was slated to make his third rehab start for Triple-A Indianapolis on Sunday.