Juan Nicasio had acquitted himself fairly well. He had retired sluggers Andrew McCutcheon and Pedro Alvarez leading off the 6th, then inevitably, it fell apart as a Garrett Jones triple sandwiched between two singles broke the 1-1 tie and gave the Pittsburgh Pirates a 3-1 lead over the Colorado Rockies. Uncharacteristically Colorado brought a dose of late offense out of the bag, plating 5 in the bottom of the inning to defeat the Pirates and secure the home weekend series 6-4 Saturday night at Coors Field in Denver.
Apocalyptic skies at game time prompted a 108 minute delayed start. Nicasio handled the Pirates in the 1st and 2nd and had the look he gets when he dominates. The Rockies scored the first run in the bottom of the 2nd when Todd Helton led-off with a double, moved-over to 3rd on a swinging bunt by Wilin Rosario, and came home on a Jonathan Herrera single. Nicasio lost the “look” in the 4th when Pittsburgh tied it on a walk to McCutcheon and double by Russell Martin.
In the 6th Martin had singled with two out when Jones hit his triple to deep right center field to put the Pirates into the lead. Jose Tabata drove-in Jones with a grounder behind 2nd-base that Herrera couldn’t make a play on. Michael Cuddyer led-off the bottom of the 6th for Colorado with a single and after Helton struck-out alertly moved-up to second on a deep fly to McCutcheon by Rosario. Nolan Arenado delivered Cuddyer with two out on a line-drive to right-center that he legged into a double. Pittsburgh starter AJ Burnett (5-8, 2.95) walked Herrera with pitcher Wilton Lopez (2-4, 4.50), who picked-up a one-batter vampire-victory, on deck to force Rockies’ manager Walt Weiss to go to a pinch hitter. Charlie Blackmon got the call and mashed a xerox-copy of Arenado’s double to the left of McCutcheon on Burnett’s first offering, scoring Arenado and tying things-up at 3-3. With Herrera at 3rd and Blackmon at 2nd Dexter Fowler singled to right for a 5-3 lead, ending the night for Burnett, who struck-out 8. With Tony Watson on Corey Dickerson singled, and a frisky Fowler decided to try for 3rd, where Starling Marte’s throw waited six feet from the bag in the glove of 3rd-baseman Alvarez. Not to be deterred, Fowler executed a forearm stomp out of his feet-first slide, nearly severing the left-hand of Alvarez and sending the tag skittering toward the Pirates dugout. Dex trotted home with run No. 6.
Josh Outman replaced Lopez for Colorado in the 7th, gave-up a lead-off single to Josh Harrison, then knocked Marte out of the game on a hit batsman. After the injury delay Outman got a grounder back to the mound that turned into a double play thanks to Troy Tulowitzki’s leaping grab of the throw from Outman for the put-out at 2nd. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle took issue with the call at 2nd, rushed-out to argue with 2nd-base umpire Adrian Johnson, and soon realized he was not only on television, but also in front of 40,000 former fans, and the usual farce ensued, until home-plate ump Fieldin Culbreth finally trotted out to 2nd and ordered Hurdle to get the hell off the field. Outman got McCutcheon to ground-out to quash the threat.
Matt Belisle handled Pittsburgh in the 8th, but Rex Brothers created some drama in the 9th, when he surrendered a run by walking Gaby Sanchez and allowing singles by Alex Presley and Neil Walker before striking-out McCutcheon and Alvarez to end it.
Colorado will go for a sweep this afternoon with the Pirates facing a 3 game set next week in St Louis against their closest rival in the NL Central. Rookie Chad Bettis (0-1, 6.30) will go for the Rockies against Pittsburgh lefty Jeff Locke (9-3, 2.47).