video thumbnail

COL@PIT: Cutch lines go-ahead single to center

PITTSBURGH -- Clint Hurdle remarked earlier in the weekend that his team has a mindset that once the game hits the sixth inning, "now it gets fun."

The Pirates proved it as they swept the Rockies out of town Sunday.

The Bucs came from behind for the third time in as many games and beat Colorado, 5-3, Sunday afternoon at PNC Park. Andrew McCutchen's RBI single in the seventh was the difference, and it was actually the earliest of the Pirates' three game-winning hits in the series.

All three of the Pirates' wins coming out of the All-Star break followed the same recipe: Get a serviceable outing from their starter, eventually chase the Rockies' starter and then get some clutch hits against the bullpen.

"We were able to stay with things and get after things as the game progressed," Hurdle said. "Our starting pitching got us in a position that kept us in games. Our bullpen picked us up. Offensively, we persevered at the plate, kept grinding out at-bats and found ways to add on."

The Pirates fell in a three-run hole early as starter Jeff Locke was hurt by the long ball, but erased the deficit by the seventh. Josh Harrison led off the inning with a walk against Colorado reliever Matt Belisle and promptly stole second base.

McCutchen worked a 3-0 count -- one Hurdle said he'll always have the green light on -- and took advantage, lacing a single up the middle to put the Bucs ahead.

"To walk a guy and then fall behind to a big league hitter and have a pitch hit up the middle just can't happen," Belisle said. "Today was amateur as far as that goes, what not to do."

Neil Walker added an insurance run later in the frame with a solo homer for Pittsburgh's sixth consecutive home win and second consecutive sweep at PNC Park.

"It was a huge hit by Cutch to give us the lead," Walker said. "Any time you can add on in the eighth or ninth inning to make it more than a one-run lead is a good thing."

The win pushed the Pirates to 52-46, matching the highest they've been above. 500 this season and came on an afternoon when the Reds and Brewers also lost to move Pittsburgh into sole possession of third place in the packed National League Central.

The Pirates got on the board in the second inning as Jordy Mercer -- who hit Saturday night's walk-off winner in the 11th -- ripped the third of three straight singles, which allowed Gaby Sanchez and Walker to score.

Mercer then crossed the plate on a Chris Stewart double. However, it didn't tie the game. Stewart's grounder down the left-field line got wedged under the padding in the wall, and the umpires ruled Mercer had to go back to third.

The duo got some revenge in the sixth inning when Stewart hit another ground-rule double -- this one cleared the fence on a hop -- and Mercer got to stroll home from second to tie the game. It was the final hit against Rockies starter Tyler Matzek, who gave up seven hits and struck out eight in six innings.

"It's strange for me just to have two doubles, period," joked Stewart, who had just one extra-base hit on the season entering Sunday, "not necessarily how they came about. Unfortunately, the ball got caught the first time, probably would have rolled to the wall. We probably would've got a run out of it, didn't happen. Next one, I was just glad I was able to drive in a run."

Stewart's battery mate, Locke, gave up just three homers in his first 56 innings this season, but on Sunday, allowed two balls to leave the yard before recording four outs.

Josh Rutledge's two-run shot in the first was followed by a leadoff blast in the second by former Pirate Michael McKenry. Locke shut out the Rockies in his final four frames, but didn't pitch into the seventh inning for just the second time in eight starts since joining the rotation in June.

Locke called the outing -- his first since July 11 -- "pretty sloppy" and was hard on himself because he said he knew it could have been better.

"You try to execute pitches, and sure you might throw 85 or 100 pitches on the day," Locke said. "Not all of them are going to go where you want, but you sure as hell would like to have most of them go that way."

MLB.com Comments