Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Not-So-Hot Rod Wins It in 9th Barajas Delivers 2-Run Homer in Pirates' Walk-Off Victory Pirates 5, Nationals 4

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Not-So-Hot Rod Wins It in 9th Barajas Delivers 2-Run Homer in Pirates' Walk-Off Victory Pirates 5, Nationals 4

Article excerpt

When Rod Barajas walked to the plate in the ninth inning Tuesday night, manager Clint Hurdle heard dissent from the fans.

"Seemed to be a lot of mixed opinion above our dugout when I let him go up and hit," Hurdle said.

Barajas entered the game with a .133 batting average, no home runs and no RBIs. He had not reached base in his previous three at- bats in the game.

"I thought what the heck, he's hit a few before," Hurdle said.

It worked. Barajas' walk-off two-run home run gave the Pirates a 5-4 win against the Washington Nationals at PNC Park.

Barajas hit the first pitch he saw from Henry Rodriguez into the seats near the left-field foul pole. The home run scored Alex Presley, who had hit a pinch-hit single.

"I wasn't 100 percent positive it was going to go out but I thought I had a pretty good chance," Barajas said.

Barajas heard the boos from the announced crowd of 10,323 when he popped out in the eighth.

"It's not what you want as a player," Barajas said. "If they're booing you, that means that you're struggling. I'd love to be doing better. I'm going to work, I'm going to try hard to improve."

Hurdle said Barajas worked in the batting cage Sunday and Tuesday to work out the kinks in his early season slump.

"It can't go on forever," Hurdle said.

As Barajas rounded third, he found the rest of the team standing with interlocked fingers forming the letter 'Z,' a trend that Neil Walker helped start in Atlanta. The sign references Zoltan, a character from the movie "Dude, Where's My Car?" and a sign now given after a hit.

"We just started doing it, we've been raking ever since," said starter A.J. Burnett, who got Barajas with a shaving-cream pie in the face after his winning homer. "That was my favorite part of the night, seeing 20 guys behind home plate doing that. It shows you what a group we have."

Burnett rebounded from his most recent outing, where he allowed 12 runs in 2 2/3 innings against the St. Louis Cardinals, to throw 93 pitches in eight innings and strike out 10. He said he found his curveball midway through the game and threw it for strikes early in the count.

"Seemed like everything Rod put down was a two," Burnett said. …

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