DENVER (AP) – A.J. Burnett was one out away from another impressive outing when it all fell apart.
The Rockies put together a two-out rally in the sixth inning against Burnett, scoring five times, and Colorado overtook the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-4 Saturday night.
Pittsburgh also lost leadoff man Starling Marte to a left-hand contusion when he was struck by a pitch from Colorado’s Josh Outman in the seventh inning. He team said he is day to day.
The start of the game was delayed 1 hour, 48 minutes because of a weather cell that slowly moved into the area before the first pitch. Heavy rain and lightning hit Coors Field after the scheduled 6:10 MDT start.
“It can get crazy here,” said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, also a former Rockies skipper who was ejected for the fifth time this season after arguing a double play call. “That sixth inning, it played out with a lot of runs coming with two outs. We scored our two with two out and nobody on, and we were one out away from getting out of the inning and we couldn’t close it.”
Colorado starter Juan Nicasio kept Pittsburgh’s offense in check before hitting a rough patch in the sixth. With two outs he allowed Russell Martin’s third hit, and Martin scored on Garrett Jones’ triple to center.
Jose Tabata followed with an infield single up the middle to give the Pirates a 3-1 lead and chase Nicasio.
Burnett couldn’t hold the lead in the bottom of the sixth. Michael Cuddyer singled to start the inning before Burnett got two quick outs, fanning Todd Helton for his eighth strikeout of the game and getting Wilin Rosario on a fly ball to center.
Nolan Arenado then doubled to the center-field gap to drive in a run, and after Jonathan Herrera walked, pinch-hitter Charlie Blackmon also doubled to center to tie it up at 3-all. Dexter Fowler followed with a two-run single to put the Rockies back in front and chase Burnett (5-8).
“I couldn’t make a pitch,” said Burnett, who allowed six runs on eight hits in 5 2-3 innings. “I left balls over the plate too much to the third baseman (Arenado). It was a first pitch hook to the pinch hitter. You just tip your hat. It wasn’t a bad pitch. But it all started with me throwing too much plate on an 0-1 pitch to the third baseman. Everything after that, I couldn’t get the ball where I wanted it to go.”
Burnett said his problems in the sixth stemmed from the location of his pitches.
“I was making pitches when I needed to with guys on base, getting out of jams (earlier),” Burnett said. “I have a tendency to get guys on, work out of the stretch a little bit. But you leave balls over the plate, that’s what happens.”
The Pirates have lost two straight after winning 14 of 19, but stayed four games ahead of St. Louis in the NL Central.
Tony Watson came on and allowed Corey Dickerson’s single to left field. Marte threw to Pedro Alvarez at third, but Fowler dislodged the ball on his slide and ran home when it rolled into foul territory. Alvarez came up shaking his left hand but stayed in the game.
Hurdle said that Alvarez caught a spike to his index finger on his glove hand.
Marte wasn’t as lucky. He fell to his knees and grabbed his hand in pain after being hit by Josh Outman’s pitch during his at-bat in the top of the seventh. Marte was clearly hurting as the team trainer examined the injury.
Alex Presley ran for Marte, who was removed from the game.
During the next at-bat, Neil Walker grounded to short and Troy Tulowitzki appeared to miss stepping on second base before throwing to first, though the umpires ruled it a double play.
Hurdle came out and argued heatedly that Tulowitzki failed to touch the bag.
He was ejected for excessive arguing by second base umpire Adrian Johnson, the fifth ejection of the season for Hurdle, who drew some jeers from the crowd as he trudged off the field and into the clubhouse.
He said after reviewing the play in the clubhouse that Johnson made the right call.
“I trust my eyes and my eyes were wrong,” Hurdle said.
Rex Brothers gave up a run in the top of the ninth before striking out Andrew McCutchen and Alvarez to end the game for his ninth save.
NOTES: Marte flew out to start the game to end his streak of six straight hits over the previous two games. … Pittsburgh will send lefty Jeff Locke (9-3) against Colorado right-hander Chad Bettis (0-1) in the series finale Sunday.
– By DENNIS GEORGATOS, Associated Press
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