DENVER (AP) — Clint Hurdle remained calm as his ace was roughed up in hitter-friendly Coors Field. Pittsburgh’s bats rewarded the manager for his patience.
Garrett Jones had three hits, including one of Pittsburgh’s four home runs, Pedro Alvarez also homered and the Pirates rallied to beat the Colorado Rockies 9-6 on Wednesday.
James McDonald struggled through five tough innings, and Rod Barajas and Casey McGehee also went deep for the Pirates, who took two of three from the Rockies.
It was the kind of homer-happy game Hurdle managed in his seven years as the Rockies’ skipper, and he proved experience matters in this ballpark.
“I’m comfortable being uncomfortable here,” he said. “Seeing almost a thousand games in this park, it does make it easy. You don’t get out there too quick, you don’t overreact, you don’t under-react, you just try to react appropriately.”
Watching a combined six home runs fly over the fence is a familiar, if not modest, sight at Coors Field.
“You can ratchet that up a little bit,” he said.
Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez homered, and Andrew Brown, recalled Tuesday and batting cleanup, had three hits for Colorado.
One of Brown’s hits, an RBI single in the fourth, tied the game 6-all before the Pirates took control.
Jones started the fifth with a single off reliever Matt Reynolds (3-1) and McGehee followed with his eighth homer of the season. One out later, Barajas homered to make it 9-6.
“It’s nice to jump back in the game and take the life out of the other team with one swing of the bat,” McGehee said. “We didn’t necessarily try to drive the ball out of the ballpark, we just made good solid contact and let the ball travel like it can here.”
The Rockies got the tying run to the plate with one out in the eighth but Gonzalez grounded out and Brown struck out to end the threat.
Joel Hanrahan recorded the last three outs for his 26th save in 29 chances.
“James was able to find his way and navigate through five and just efficient work out of the bullpen,” Hurdle said. “He’s still growing up. The league fires back and when you’re not sharp you pay.”
Trailing 5-1 entering the third, the Pirates rallied to take the lead against starter Jeremy Guthrie. McDonald helped himself with a leadoff single, Andrew McCutchen walked with two outs and Jones homered to right-center field to make it 5-4.
“A big home run by Jones there, he took a great swing,” Guthrie said. “At that point I let the team back into it.”
McGehee reached on an error, Alvarez singled and Barajas was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Clint Barmes followed with a two-run single to make it 6-5 and chase Guthrie.
“We had a guy on the ropes and Barmes comes through with a big hit to knock him out,” McGehee said. “You get a chance to knock a starter out early that’s usually a good recipe to try and win a game.”
Fowler led off the bottom of the first with his 12th homer, Marco Scutaro walked and Gonzalez followed with his 18th home run to give Colorado a 3-0 lead.
Alvarez made it 3-1 in the second with his 19th homer. The Rockies tacked on two more in the bottom of the inning on Scutaro’s groundout and Brown’s single.
McDonald (10-3) wasn’t sharp but he stuck around long enough to win his fifth straight decision and set a career-high for wins. He allowed six runs on nine hits, walked four and struck out two and needed 108 pitches to get 15 outs.
“It’s weird because I got my first big league win here,” McDonald said. “It was the same style of game. I gave up five runs and got the win. Here, you can get runs quick. Everyone knows that. All I could do is keep them in the game.”
NOTES: The Pirates are 40-1 when leading after six innings and 44-0 when leading after seven. … Fowler’s home run was his second leading off a game this year and the third of his career. … Rockies INF Chris Nelson (irregular heartbeat) was released from the hospital Tuesday and visited the team during Tuesday’s game. He is home resting comfortably. … The Pirates will send RHP Kevin Correia (6-6) in the series opener against Miami on Friday. … LHP Drew Pomeranz (1-4) will start the opener of a three-game series in San Diego on Friday.
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