|Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher James McDonald throws in the first inning of a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies in Pittsburgh Wednesday, April 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)|
Rockies grind out doubleheader split with Pirates
PITTSBURGH—Colorado Rockies manager Jim Tracy saw his team scratch together three runs on nine hits over 18 innings on Wednesday and hardly felt the need to complain.
Sure, he would have preferred a little more offense after the Rockies beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-1 in the first game of a doubleheader before falling 5-1 in the nightcap.
Then again, one win is better than none.
"We split the doubleheader, we split the road trip, we're .500 and I personally feel as if there is a number of things we're still working out," Tracy said. "We haven't come close yet to this club firing on all cylinders, so I give a lot of credit to the fact that we're doing a great job of holding our own."
Colorado's chance at a sweep ended during Pittsburgh's five-run outburst in the fifth inning of the second game, a rally made possible when Rockies left-fielder Carlos Gonzalez lost Nate McLouth's sinking liner in the sun.
The ball bounced under Gonzalez's glove for an RBI-double and Andrew McCutchen followed with a single in almost the exact same spot as Pittsburgh matched a season-high in runs.
"It was one of those things where you can't catch something you don't see, you know?" Gonzalez said. "I didn't see the ball at all."
Garrett Jones followed with a two-run shot and Pedro Alvarez hit his second homer of the day as the Pirates gave Charlie Morton (1-1) all the cushion he would need.
"We've had opportunities present themselves before, haven't been able to move on them," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "We were able to move on them today in the fifth inning of the second game and moved on it dramatically."
Despite the outburst Pittsburgh set a major league record by playing its 18th straight game starting the season in which neither team scored more than five runs, surpassing the standard set by the 1943 Detroit Tigers.
The Pirates began the day dead last in the majors with 36 runs scored. They have managed to hang around thanks to a pitching staff second in the National League in ERA (2.72).
Pittsburgh wasted another outstanding effort in the opener as James McDonald flirted with the first Pirates no-hitter since Francisco Cordova and Ricardo Rincon combined over 10 innings against the Astros on July 12, 1997.
McDonald didn't give up a hit until Troy Tulowitzki's infield single with one out in the seventh. Gonzalez scored on a sacrifice fly by Jason Giambi to give the Rockies the lead, though Alvarez responded with a solo shot in the bottom of the seventh off starter Juan Nicasio.
Chris Resop (0-2) took over for McDonald in the eighth and was tagged with the loss after grazing pinch-hitter Eric Young. Marco Scutaro singled and Tyler Colvin followed with a sacrifice fly off reliever Tony Watson, and Young just beat Jose Tabata's throw to the plate.
"I don't know if I could name another guy in the league that's going to score from third base on the ball that Colvin hit," Tracy said. "There's probably a couple other guys who would try, but it's less than five I guarantee you as far as guys who would take off from third on that fly to get us the run we needed to win."
Reliever Matt Reynolds (2-0) got the win. Rafael Betancourt worked the ninth for his sixth save.
The Rockies weren't quite as resourceful in the second game. Ramon Hernandez's home run gave Colorado it's lone run off Morton.
Still, there are worse ways to end a road trip, particularly on a day when the Rockies know they came within a breath of getting swept.
"Yeah, we're still hanging around," Gonzalez said. "Our bats need to come to life, and we all believe that we're going to get hot and put up numbers and score a lot of runs for the pitchers. But we're still up there with .500. We just need to start winning more series."
NOTES: As part of the new collective bargaining agreement, both teams were allowed to add a roster spot for the doubleheader. The Pirates recalled reliever Jared Hughes from Triple-A Indianapolis while the Rockies brought up reliever Zach Putnam. Hughes pitched a scoreless ninth for Pittsburgh ... The Pirates are off Thursday then begin a six-game trip on Friday in Atlanta. A.J. Burnett (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will face Tommy Hanson (2-2, 3.38 ERA). ... The Rockies are off Thursday and start a three-game set against the Mets on Friday. Drew Pomeranz (0-1, 6.75 ERA) will start for Colorado. The Mets had not announced a starter.