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Pirates continue turnaround, beat Diamondbacks

The SportsXchange

PHOENIX -- Garrett Jones began his stay in the National League with 10 home runs in his first 19 games, the last of which came at Chase Field on July 24, 2009. He still likes it here.

Jones had three singles and two RBIs, extending his run in Arizona while helping the Pirates further distance themselves from a sluggish first week offensively in a 6-5 victory over the Diamondbacks on Tuesday.

"Each player has his own comfort zone, and for whatever reason I see the ball well and it carries well. This is just one of the parks for me where I feel comfortable," said Jones, who is hitting .353 with three homers and 10 RBIs in 15 games at Chase Field.

Jones singled in a run in the first inning and capped a decisive five-run fourth inning with another RBI single to help the Pirates (3-5) win consecutive games for the first time this season.

Starling Marte had two hits, two RBIs and scored twice, and Neil Walker broke an 0-for-21 slide with a two-run single in the fourth.

The Pirates, who scored only eight runs in their first six games, scored five runs in the first game of the series. They had a season-high 11 hits Tuesday after entering the game with a .126 team batting average.

"We had a rough few games, but we knew our offense would click. It was just a matter of time getting it going," Jones said.

"We've got some guys who can hit. They're not going to (hit) .120 all year long. We got some balls to hit. We feel like we can compete in the box. This park is an offensive park as well. A combination of the two," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

Miguel Montero had a two-run double and Jason Kubel had a two-run home run in a four-run first inning, but the D-backs had only two more hits the rest of the way off McDonald and three relievers. Montero's sacrifice fly with the bases loaded in the seventh inning drove in their final run.

"Miggy crushed the ball, and that went against us. We didn't execute when we needed to and they did," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said.

The D-backs (5-3) lost their first series of the season after taking two of three from St. Louis and sweeping Milwaukee over the weekend as they got an early look at the NL Central.

Pirates right-hander James McDonald survived the four-run first inning to get his first victory of the year. New closer Jason Grilli, who replaced free agent Joel Hanrahan, got his second save of the series and third of the season.

"I just tried to keep my composure, zone the negative out and keep grinding," said McDonald, who pitched into the sixth inning.

The Pirates opened a 6-4 lead with five runs off Brandon McCarthy in the fourth inning. Right fielder Kubel dropped an inning-opening line drive before Travis Snider walked and McDonald singled to load the bases.

Marte doubled down the right-field line to drive in two runs, Walker followed with a two-run single up the middle, and Jones finished the rally with a two-out single to drive in Walker.

"We gave them two runs, which is not characteristic. All in all, it was a game we didn't play very well in," Gibson said.

McCarthy has given up 12 runs, 10 earned, in his first two D-backs starts after signing as a free agent in the offseason. He gave up 10 hits Tuesday, and has given up 19 hits in 11 2/3 innings this season.

"That was as well as I've thrown a baseball in my professional career," McCarthy said. "I absolutely felt like I was able to do what I wanted to do. We weren't changing things up enough. I've got to be smart right there and shake it (called pitch) off and mix things up more than we did there in the fifth through seventh inning."

NOTES: Arizona second baseman Aaron Hill has reached safely in all eight games this season after walking twice and being hit by a pitch. Hill, hitting .294, signed a three-year, $35 million contract extension in the offseason after hitting a career-high .302 with a career-high 76 extra-base hits. ... Pittsburgh infielder Brandon Inge (right scapula) is eligible to come off the disabled list for the final game of the series Wednesday, but he is not expected to join the Pirates until they return for a 10-game homestand that begins Friday. He went 0-for-4 while playing second base for Class AAA Indianapolis on Tuesday. ... D-backs outfielder Cody Ross (left calf) played at Class A Visalia on Tuesday and was then scheduled to continue his rehabilitation assignment at Class AAA Reno on Friday and Saturday, manager Kirk Gibson, before a decision is made on when to activate him. He could return for a nine-game road trip that begins April 16 against the New York Yankees.
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