When McCutchen hit a game-ending homer as a rookie two years ago, the then-22-year-old centerfielder leaped high into the air with his arms held out wide as he landed on home plate to meet a mob of teammates.
This time, as McCutchen approached home after homering in the 12th inning to give the Pirates a 3-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, he neatly set his helmet on the ground and nonchalantly stepped on the plate as teammates surrounded him.
“It’s different now since Kendry Morales got hurt last season,” McCutchen said, referring to the Los Angeles Angels’ first baseman who hasn’t played since breaking his leg leaping to the plate celebrating last May.
“I don’t think you’ll ever see me go leaping into home plate anymore like I did that night. It’s too dangerous. Plus, I was tired. It was a long, hot night and I was just glad it was over and we got the win.”
The Pirates evened their record this late in the season for the first time since also being 30-30 on June 11, 2005. Pittsburgh has won four of five and six of eight.
“We’re .500 and that’s about the significance of it to us,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “It will have more significance later in season when we’re 500. I understand the importance of it to the fans, though, when I’m walking the streets, having lunch, having dinner, doing things around the ‘Burgh. I’m glad people are excited about it, but we don’t want to be satisfied with being .500 in June.”
Arizona has lost three consecutive since going on a 18-4 run.
“We had a chance to win the game,” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. “We had several opportunities in extra innings—we just didn’t get it done.”
The usual cleanup hitter, Drew was not in the lineup against left-handed starter Paul Maholm(notes). But he extended his hitting streak to five games when he lined a single in the eighth off of Jose Veras(notes) to tie the game at 1.
Two innings later, Johnson—another regular who was given the beginning of the night off but pinch hit in the eighth—again led off by reaching base, again was sacrificed to second and again scored on a single to center by Drew.
“The first at bat, I was like, ‘Just get a pitch and put it out in the middle and hit it to left-center,” Drew said. “I wasn’t trying to do too much. Second at bat, the same thing with Johnson on. I wasn’t trying to do too much, and it worked out.”
McCutchen started that rally by doubling down the right-field line.
Good friends and fellow left-handed starters Zach Duke(notes) and Maholm both had strong outings but were given no-decisions when a win would have meant either would be the all-time victories leader at PNC Park.
The Diamondbacks managed only one hit against Maholm in six shutout innings, and former Pirates teammate Duke allowed one run on nine hits in seven innings.
Maholm was in line to break a tie with Duke with 31 wins at the Pirates’ 11-year-old ballpark.
“It was a good game because we both pitched well,” Maholm said. “Zach did what he does. He gave up some hits but he also found ways to make big pitches to get out of some jams.”
Making his third start with the Diamondbacks after spending his first six seasons with Pittsburgh, Duke allowed 11 baserunners. Only one would cross home — on a McCutchen sacrifice fly in the third.
Notes: Pirates C Chris Snyder(notes) left the game due to low back pain after sliding awkwardly at second trying to stretch a single into a double in the second inning. He was replaced by Dusty Brown(notes) and will be evaluated Thursday. … Duke received a mixture of cheers and boos when he was announced to bat. … Diamondbacks 1B Juan Miranda(notes) extended fully to make a diving catch on a line drive hit down the line by Walker in the eighth. … Overbay hit his 300th double. … Pittsburgh 3B Pedro Alvarez(notes) has experienced a re-aggravation of the tightness in his right quadriceps that has him on the disabled list. That has pushed back the schedule of when he could go on a rehabilitation assignment and ultimately return to the majors.