By Rob Biertempfel
ATLANTA — Once the Pirates and Atlanta Braves finally started playing again early Wednesday morning, it was like neither team wanted to stop.
After waiting out a 3 1/2-hour rain delay, the Pirates needed just nine outs to win. Instead, the lead changed hands three times over the final three innings before the Braves pulled out a 6-5 victory.
Matt Adams lined a walkoff single off Tony Watson at 1:52 a.m. — more than six hours after the first pitch of the game.
“We’ve had some wild finishes here,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “The game ended up all over the place.”
It’s not the first marathon in Atlanta for either Hurdle or the Pirates.
“I’ve actually played in a longer game here,” Hurdle said. “It finished at 3:45 a.m. and they shot off fireworks at 4 o’clock on July 4, 1985. (The Pirates) played an 18-inning game here a few years ago.”
Still, this one must have seemed especially long to Hurdle, who was ejected for the second night in a row. He was booted in the top of the first inning for arguing with home plate umpire Nic Lentz.
The rain delay of 3 hours, 12 minutes was the longest for the Pirates in a road game since Sept. 17, 2012, when they waited out a storm for 3:37 at Wrigley Field.
“The whole night just stinks,” shortstop Jordy Mercer said. “Sitting around for that long, playing into the night … well, the next morning. It stinks.”
The Pirates led, 3-2, when the rain hit. When play resumed, the Braves scored two runs in the seventh inning.
Closer Jim Johnson couldn’t nail it down. With two outs and the bases loaded in the ninth, Mercer hit a two-run single to make it 5-4.
Nick Markakis’ RBI double off Watson tied it at 5. Markakis scored the game-winner on Adams’ two-out single to left.
The Braves’ rally cost Tyler Glasnow a win. The right-hander worked six innings and gave up two runs on nine hits, walked two and struck out four.
“Another step forward,” Hurdle said.
Glasnow was even better at the plate. Against Braves knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, Glasnow went 3 for 3 — doubling his career hits total over the course of six innings.
Even Glasnow seemed in disbelief each time he reached base.
“I think it was just maybe what the hits were,” Glasnow said. “It was probably a little bit of luck on my side.”
In the first inning, Glasnow legged out an infield single on a weak grounder to short. In the third, he looped a single to shallow left. In the sixth, more hustle down the line produced another infield hit
“I think it’s because I hit the ball so soft,” Glasnow said, explaining the infield singles. “I had some time and I have decent speed. I like running, so I do it and I’m safe.”
It was the most hits in a game by a Pirates pitcher since Doug Drabek went 3 for 4 against the St. Louis Cardinals on May 27, 1991.
Glasnow didn’t get a fourth at-bat, as the rain delay before the top of the seventh knocked him out of the game.
The Pirates built a 2-0 lead against Dickey on Josh Bell’s RBI double in the first inning and John Jaso’s run-scoring single in the third.
Mercer, who bruised his right thumb on Monday, led off the sixth with a fly ball to right field. Mercer didn’t get all of it, but he got enough — the ball cleared the top of the fence by a foot or so.
It was the first time in his career that Mercer cleared the wall for an opposite-field home run.
The Braves pulled within 3-2 via single runs in the fourth and sixth.
Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.