Gamble or not, Joyce’s cameo key to comeback

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Matt Joyce has knocked in 15 runs as a pinch-hitter this season. - GETTY

SAN FRANCISCO — Clint Hurdle didn't think it was much of a risk, plugging Matt Joyce into the middle of a promising fifth-inning rally Wednesday at AT&T Park. He made the move he felt he had to make.

"How do you know you're going to have another shot with the bases loaded?" Hurdle asked, rhetorically of course, after the Pirates' 6-5 win. "He's your guy. You take a shot when the bases are full and see what can play out. He's done a very fine job for us this year, and it was a battle at-bat. That's why we went to him. It was a chance to get back in the game."

Not that Iván Nova was pitching that well, with four runs allowed through four innings, but lifting a starter with five innings (at least) yet to come and two relievers unavailable still falls under the heading of tough decisions, even with an off day next.

But, when a manager has a bench bat the caliber of Joyce's at his disposal, rolling somewhat loaded dice feels like a six-inch putt. Hurdle tapped it in, and Joyce did this:

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