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Big inning lifts Rockies over Pirates

The SportsXchange

DENVER -- After bombarding the high-flying Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night, the Colorado Rockies overhauled them on Saturday night and held on to win 6-4.

Thanks to a five-run sixth inning when all the runs were scored with two outs, the Rockies won back-to-back games for the first time since July 20-21. They beat the Pirates 10-1 on Friday.

The Rockies have regrouped against the Pirates after staggering home from a 1-9 road trip that tied the worst record in franchise history for a 10-game trip.

"To be able win in a comeback fashion like tonight was nice," said Michael Cuddyer, who began the five-run rally with a single. "I think it's going to get us to start believing in ourselves again."

The Pirates remained four games ahead of St. Louis in the National League Central after the Cardinals lost at home to the Chicago Cubs for the second straight game.

Rockies closer Rex Brothers walked the first batter he faced in the ninth and gave up a one-out single to Alex Presley. Neil Walker followed with a run-scoring single. Brothers ran the count full to Andrew McCutchen but struck him out. He then struck out cleanup hitter Pedro Alvarez on his 27th pitch to pick up his ninth save.

"You got 'Cutch up there with a chance to go ahead, and you got Pedro. You like your chances," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "The pitches he made to 'Cutch looked like strikes out of his hand.

"They didn't finish there. The pitches he threw to Pedro, as I'm watching here (on television in his office), the first two pitches, one nips the bottom of the zone and one nips the inside part of the zone. Then he throws him a big breaking ball."

Hurdle was ejected by second base umpire Adrian Johnson in the seventh. It was the fifth ejection this season for Hurdle, who argued that shortstop Troy Tulowitzki did not have his foot on the base when he caught a high throw from pitcher Josh Outman to complete a double play on Neil Walker's comebacker with runners on first and second and no outs.

Hurdle said after he returned to his office and saw a replay that Johnson made the correct call.

"I trust my eyes, and my eyes were wrong," Hurdle said. "I went out there and I really felt confident he was off the bag. Adrian made the right call."

The Pirates scored twice with two out in the sixth to go ahead 3-1 and knock out starter Juan Nicasio. He worked 5 2/3 innings, as did Pirates starter A.J. Burnett, who had limited the Rockies to one run and four hits before their sixth-inning uprising.

Cuddyer led off the Colorado sixth with a single. He took second on Wilin Rosario's deep fly to center and scored on Nolan Arenado's double.

After Jonathan Herrera walked, pinch-hitter Charlie Blackmon's first-pitch double on a curveball tied the score at 3. Dexter Fowler followed with a two-run single that finished Burnett.

"I couldn't make a pitch," Burnett said. "I left balls over the plate. The first-pitch hook to the pinch hitter, that wasn't a bad pitch. You got to tip your hat. It all started with me throwing too much plate on the 0-1 pitch to the third baseman (Arenado). Everything after that, I couldn't get the ball where I wanted it to go."

Corey Dickerson greeted Tony Watson with an opposite-field single that sent Fowler dashing to third. He spiked Alvarez on the index finger of his left hand and knocked the ball out of his glove at third base and far enough away to enable Fowler to score.

Three straight hits with two out gave the Pirates a two-run lead in the top of the inning. Russell Martin, who doubled home a run in the fourth, singled for his third straight hit and Garrett Jones tripled him home, driving an 0-2 pitch beyond the reach of Fowler in center.

Herrera snared Jose Tabata's grounder behind second base but couldn't get Tabata at first with his jump throw as Jones scored.

While losing his previous two starts, Nicasio (7-6) failed to last five innings, giving up 16 hits and 12 runs in 8 1/3 innings. He was better Saturday but again experienced the efficiency problems that have plagued him most of the season. Nicasio retired the side on nine pitches in the first inning and then needed 93 pitches in his final 4 2/3 innings.

"He battled," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "I wouldn't say it was his A stuff, but he gave us a shot, and I wanted to give him an opportunity to get through the sixth."

Burnett (5-8), who held the Rockies to one run and eight hits while throwing a complete game one week ago and winning 5-1 at Pittsburgh, tied his season high by allowing six runs, five of them earned, but nonetheless has a 2.95 ERA.

"It's huge, to come back against a starter like that, against a club like that with two outs," Weiss said. "We got some clutch hits. We put together a lot of great at-bats against a real good pitcher."

NOTES: The start of the game was delayed 1 hour, 48 minutes by rain. ... Rockies RHP Rafael Betancourt, who underwent an appendectomy on July 19, will throw a simulated game on Monday. The Rockies closer threw three bullpen sessions this week, the last a 47-pitch effort Friday and said he felt very good Saturday. ... Fowler has drawn least one walk in eight of his past 10 starts. ... Rockies RHP Jeff Manship, who made an emergency start on Thursday at New York when Tyler Chatwood (right elbow inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list, is scheduled to start again Tuesday against San Diego. ... Starling Marte flied out to begin the game. He was trying to become the first Pirate to get a hit in seven straight at-bats since Freddy Sanchez on May 25-26, 2009. Marte left the game in the seventh with a left hand contusion and was listed day to day after Outman hit him with a pitch. ... Pirates LHP Wandy Rodriguez threw 25 pitches, fastballs and changeups, in his first bullpen session since late June and said he felt fine afterward. Rodriguez hasn't pitched since coming out of a June 6 start in the first inning with left forearm tightness. Assuming no setbacks, Rodriguez is scheduled for another bullpen session Wednesday at St. Louis and a simulated game on Friday or Saturday in Pittsburgh.
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